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Christmas Safety Tips for Dogs

Tis officially the season to be jolly which means spending relaxing time with your family and friends and of course, your dogs will be joining in the fun festivities!

We spoke to Dr. Claire Jenkins from online vet service Vetchat about the potential dangers for your furkids this month to ensure they remain safe throughout the festive season. 
As polled by the team at Vetchat, here are the top seven doggie dangers to watch out for:

Tip #1 - Human Foods Toxic for Dogs

Chocolate, plum pudding, Christmas cake, stuffing for meats, fruit platters and more, all in abundance, this all sounds wonderful to us! 

However, these common foods have ingredients in them that are toxic to dogs and really are best avoided completely. These include chocolate, sultanas, raisins, grapes, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts.

Signs will depend on the food that has been eaten so if your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have, you should speak to a veterinarian immediately.Don't leave any plates of food unattended and ensure your bins are secure. 

Tip #2 - Alcohol

This is a no-brainer really but there is NO safe amount of alcohol for your dog to have. Effects will range from depression, difficulty walking, slow breathing, collapse and even possibly loss of life.

Tip #3 - Overindulgence

Just a little bit of ham can't hurt, right? 
Well, when given ten times that day a ‘little bit’ of ham becomes a big bit of ham! We certainly love to treat our pets but we need to know that a little to us, is actually a lot to them, and eating too much of something they are not used to or that is rich and high in fat is a very common cause of health issues for them. 

Overindulgence can trigger gut pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and even pancreatitis (which can be deadly). Feeding cooked bones should also be avoided as these can cause gut obstructions and constipation requiring intervention. 

Be careful at BBQs - don’t let your dog be fed treats from the BBQ or leftovers from friends' plates. If you can’t ensure your guests will be restrained and not give in to your pleading dog's big lovely eyes, then you are better off to have your dog restrained safely either in the house or elsewhere. 

You need to take control here on behalf of your pooch, because really, would they ever say no?

Tip #4 - Noise Anxiety
Parties, fireworks and summer storms, it is no wonder this is a hard time of year for dogs who have a propensity to be anxious

Nobody knows your pet better than you do. Always observe your mate closely and look for the subtle signs that they are unhappy or worried, and take action. 

Avoid the stress where possible, and make sure they always have access to a quiet, safe retreat. Some pets will need medication prescribed by their local bricks and mortar clinics to get through this time unscathed.

Tip #5 - O, Christmas Tree!

Now, we’re not saying don’t have one! We like the festive cheers as much as anyone...But here are just a few things to consider if you do.

  • possible tummy upsets after drinking stagnant Christmas tree water (it can be a breeding ground for bacteria).
  • electrocution is a risk if your pooch starts chewing the christmas tree lights.
  • injury to the gut if glass ornaments are eaten from the tree.
  • tinsel and other decorations can cause an obstruction of the gut when eaten, resulting in the need for surgery.
  • gift wrappings aren't good for your pet's health, so after unwrapping the presents, quickly clean up any plastic, ribbons and bows that could strangle or be swallowed by your pet.
  • eating pine tree needles - whilst not toxic - can cause irritation to the gut and a very upset tummy
So to make things easy, here’s a checklist on how to make your Christmas tree dog-friendly this year.
  1. Cover or box around the tree stand so that your pets can’t drink the water.
  2. Plastic cover encasing the electric cord of the lights.
  3. Plastic or non breakable decorations only (no glass) 
  4. Decorations secured in place so they can’t fall off or be easily pulled off 
  5. Place tinsel up high where it can’t be reached (or none!) 
  6. Make sure your tree is stable and won’t be easily pushed over. 

Tip #6 - Holiday Plants

Popular Christmas plants and flowers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, lilies, hibiscus, Christmas cactus, berries, mistletoe and holly leaves are all poisonous to your pets. Make sure they are out of their reach, as consumption could result in illness or even death.

Tip #7 - Batteries & Toys

Swallowed batteries can cause terrible sickness in dogs, ranging from an upset tummy, to burning their gut or a life-threatening obstruction! Given that batteries are a common addition to Christmas stocking fillers and under the tree, together with the inquisitive nature of our pets, please ensure they are kept well out of reach of your pooch. 

Many toys contain small plastic, rubber or metal parts that, if eaten by a dog, can cause choking and dangerous gastrointestinal blockage, requiring immediate surgery.

Wishing and your furry family happy and safe holidays!

Dr Claire Jenkins is the Co-founder of Vetchat, which offers online veterinary consultations to pet owners, giving you a vet on hand to help you in those early moments because a quick chat can save you a lot!

She is a veterinarian with over 12 years’ experience in Australia as well as the UK, and is a member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists.

Claire is also a mum to two kids and a gorgeous Kelpie, and is a pet lover passionate about improving pet care and health.

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