Holiday Safety

So the holidays are coming up and that means that things may be getting hectic around the house/neighbourhood.  This Monday therefore is going to be dedicated to giving a brief reminder of what common foods/plants are dangerous for your pets and how to avoid unwanted stress for your precious companion.

Vetsnow has a list of toxic foods/substances and includes the how of it as well.  For the point of briefness I will just list the items here(click the link to read more):

Grapes
Christmas Pudding/Cake
Mince Pies
Chocolate
Bones
Macadamia Nuts
Alcohol
Raisins
Xylitol(artificial sweetener)
Oak/Acorns/Nuts
Onions
Fruit Cake
Christmas Trees(including tinsel and the decorations)
Holly
Mistletoe
Poinsettia
Anti-freeze
etc.

Basically… during this time of year if you’re going to be dropping a lot of things in the kitchen it may be best to teach your Fluffinkins to stay out of the kitchen and then give pet friendly treats like carrots, salmon, or dog-specific treats outside of there.  If you Google “can my dog eat (x)” you can usually get an answer(or consult a vet). =)

Onto behaviours and activities!
If you have a quiet household during Christmas your main worry will be what’s going on outside so we’ll start there first.  If your city salts the streets then please ensure that Fluffinkins feet are protected – salt(and snow for that matter) can damage the paws of your pup.  Cleaning their feet off after a walk can help reduce the burn and if you can teach Fluffin to tolerate booties that can also help keep their paws going.  If you can get the pup into the snow instead of on the path not only will they burn more energy but less salt should get in their paws.  Just remember to keep an eye on the pup and if they look uncomfortable try to get them inside and cleaned.

With the coming of snow it’s also good to know that noses aren’t as good in snow as they are during summer – be careful in off-leashed areas and keep your pup under close supervision so that Fluffinkins can’t get lost.  What is normally a no-problem return for a pup can suddenly becomes a confusing land where everything looks the same and smells are gone – if you aren’t in sight s/he may get lost.

People are going to be acting a little crazy so it may be better for now to avoid going to high traffic areas such as near malls and shopping areas.

So if you have kids during the holidays(normally there or not) – they will be excited and may not act properly.  Ensure your dog has plenty of escape room from them and a free space from them if you want your dog to participate in the festivities.  Dogs rarely liked getting hugged and when they do it’s usually from the calm quiet leaders in their life – not these bouncing weird smelling loud things.  Even the best behaved dog may bite if under stress and unsure of how to escape it.  4PawsUniversity has some very nice photos showing some classic stress signs from dogs, if you are going to be entertaining anybody this season it’s good to look it over and then either monitor the dog yourself or designate somebody to watch for these signs:

Lip/Nose Licking
Yawning(when not tired)
Panting(outside of heat/exercise)
Pinned Ears
Avoidance
Excessive Sniffing
Shaking(when not wet/waking up)
Lowered Tail
or any other action that is not normal for your pup.

Keep in mind that this is your dog saying “no more please”.  This is communication and you don’t want to tell your dog “no” for these things.  Do NOT punish your dog for showing these signs – these are all avoidance methods while saying in very clear dog language “no thank you”, avoidance is better than aggression – if you punish them saying no thank you one day they may bite with no warning.  You also don’t want to try and soothe it away though because that tells the dog it’s good to be scared(they don’t understand the difference between “yes this is scary I know dear very scary” and “don’t be afraid dear, it’s just my niece Caroline”).  Please give respect to these signs and get the dog out of the area.  Even if the pup is a well-loved member of the family and is wanted it’s still not fair to expose it to something that makes it uncomfortable.  If you can’t supervise your dog or have somebody watching her/him, please consider giving her a special chew toy in another room for your event.

Note: If your dog goes from panting/lip licking/any of these signs to a sudden closed mouth and attention on something, quickly(but happily) call the pup to you and have a yummy treat to lure it away from what is bothering it, get it into another room and let it have the rest of the day off.  Dogs will often suddenly stop doing their soothing actions right before a bite.

Also if Fluffinkins isn’t trained yet and can have bad manners then giving her/him that side room may be useful so that your training doesn’t go backwards from jumping on grandpa all evening for pats.

So we covered some weather tips and some food tips, some behaviour tips and finally I’m going to end with a note that may not help dogs but it may help some wild animals: if you choose to use shiny ribbons or anything that can be caught in an animals digestive system please make sure to properly dispose of it(example: cutting up a shiny bow into teeny tiny pieces).  Animals can often mistake a floating/rolling shiny ribbon/bow as prey and then die from being unable to eat/digest it(this includes adorable sea turtles so it’s not just pests that get confused).

Happy holidays and I wish everybody all the best!  I’ll still be posting through the holidays – just figured it makes more sense to say now what is or isn’t a good idea before people go and buy all of those things.

Take care. =)

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