Planning the Holidays with Dogs How to Have a Perfect Holiday Season with Your Best Friend

Dogs Sitting Next To Holiday Decorations And A Christmas Tree

As hectic as the holiday season can get with the all of the family comings and goings, travel plans, and last minute Christmas shopping, it can be easy to forget about "the dog." Here's how to keep your dog in on the fun and safe this holiday season.

From the foods we feast on to typical holiday decor, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and the whole holiday season can bring unexpected dangers to our dogs. Pet parents celebrating holidays with dogs should make sure to plan ahead to avoid potentially hazardous situations. Here’s what you need to know. 

Pups and Poinsettias Don’t Mix

Many of the plants that surround holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, like poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, and the autumnal favorite, the eucalyptus, are toxic to dogs if ingested. Make sure to only have these plants in places that can’t be accessed by your dog, or better yet, avoid getting them entirely.

If you have a Christmas tree, make sure that your dog can’t drink the water in the tree holder, since plant food additives can be dangerous to pets. Even if you skipped the plant food, bacteria can grow in Christmas tree water and cause illness.

Hosting a Party? Make Sure to Keep Your Dog in Mind

If you’re having folks over for holiday festivities, remember that some dogs can experience a bit of anxiety around strangers. This is not pleasant for your dog -- or for you and your guests -- since no one wants to spend a party dealing with a barking, rambunctious, or stressed out dog. If your dog doesn’t deal well with lots of people, make sure to keep them in a guest-free area of the house for the duration of the get-together.

Even if your dog deals well with big groups and unfamiliar people, make sure there aren’t any opportunities for them to slip out of the house as guests arrive. It’s always important for your dog to have on tags for easy identification, but it’s even more vital during the holiday social whirl.

Don’t Let Decor Cause Damage to Your Dog

The festive decorations of Christmas, like tinsel, wired lights, and ornaments, can prove problematic for dogs. Similarly, lit candles in a menorah are risky to have around dogs. Candles can easily be knocked over by a dog’s paw, and dogs can burn themselves easily. Never allow any candles to burn unattended, and make sure that your dog cannot get within a paw’s length of them.

Be aware of where you put wires as well: dogs can chew on them, and it’s also possible for a dog to yank on a wire unintentionally causing something -- perhaps a tree! -- to fall over.

Tinsel should be avoid as a decoration -- if ingested, it can cause intestinal damage. Make sure all ornaments on your Christmas tree are secured well to avoid breakage, which could cause injury to your pet.

Give Only Pet-Friendly Holiday Treats

It’s a season of plenty -- particularly when it comes to meals. You might be feeling the urge to share some of the bounty with your dog. If you do, remember that some human food -- particularly garlic and onions -- is not safe for pets. And while it may seem natural to give dogs some of your Thanksgiving turkey, do not give them anything with bones, which can be a major choking hazard. Also be sure not to recreate any sitcom-like moments: avoid putting your dog in a situation where they can easily locate, reach, and gobble down a holiday dinner.

No Chocolate for Fido

One final tip when it comes to food safety and your dog: keep in mind that chocolate is very dangerous for dogs. Ask guests if there is food in presents before putting the gifts under the tree, since your dog can easily sniff out food, including chocolate, and eat it.

More on Holidays with Your Dog

Your Complete Thanksgiving Cat and Dog Guide
Your Thanksgiving List: 4 Things Every Pet Parent Needs on Turkey Day
A Guide to the Best Christmas Gifts for Dogs

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