Holiday Hazards for Dogs

by Lisa Lyle Waggoner

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, how lovely are your branches…..and what a hazard you can be.  No, I’m not talking about a fire hazard.  All those wrapped presents around and on the Christmas tree, all those special human goodies everywhere and all those poinsettias that help make your home festive during the holidays are exciting and enjoyable for you, but can be dangerous for your dog.

Dogs are naturally curious and are drawn to new things in their environment.   Even before those beautiful presents are unwrapped, your dog may show interest in what’s on or under the tree.  The tearing and crunching of the paper as the gift is unwrapped is sure to pique our dog’s interest in our holiday tradition of ripping open presents.  The wrapping paper, ribbon, tinsel, ornaments, lights, chemically treated water in the tree stand (even untreated water can have pine tar in it), artificial snow and scented potpourri are all hazards to your dog.  While it might be cute to see them pawing at or playing with any one of those items, if ingested it could be very serious, if not deadly.  Best to keep your dog away from all those enticing objects with a good “Leave It” cue or perhaps a strategically placed pet gate.

Most everyone knows that chocolate is toxic for dogs, but even foods that are safe (such as turkey), can be problematic for pets.  If you do want to give your dog some turkey, please be sure to remove the skin (so full of fat and with all those seasonings on it) before you give it to your furry friends.  Sweets, greasy or spicy foods can cause pancreatitis.  Other foods which are toxic for dogs are raw onions, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, raw bread dough, Xylitol, alcoholic beverages and even coffee/tea.

That lovely Poinsettia that Aunt Mabel brought to your home and looks so pretty beside the sofa, is poisonous to your furry friend.  Other plants seen during the holidays, such as mistletoe, Amaryllis, Asian Lilies and most all holly berries are potentially poisonous to your dog, so keep these at a level above your dog’s head and out of reach.

Please be sure to educate your friends and family so they can help you keep your furry friend away from these toxic items.  Keep phone numbers on hand for emergencies: your vet, the closest emergency clinic and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline: 888-426-4435 which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

And if your dog is acting strangely or exhibiting strange symptoms, be sure to err on the side of caution and call your vet.  It’s always better to play it safe!

Here’s to a happy and safe holiday season for humans and canines alike!

Lisa Lyle Waggoner is the author of The Original Rocket Recall™: Teach Your Dog to Come. She’s a CPDT-KA, a CSAT (Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer), a Pat Miller Certified Trainer Level 2, Faculty for the Victoria Stilwell Academy of Dog Training and Behavior, a dog*tec Certified Professional Dog Walker and the founder of Cold Nose College in Murphy, North Carolina. The company’s trainers enjoy providing virtual behavior consulting and training solutions to clients around the globe and offers coaching, mentoring and behavior case support for pet professionals.


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