As I watched Maverick’s tail hit the Christmas tree, sending two glass ornaments in wide arcs over his head and finally to the tile floor breaking them into bits, I thought about all of the different ways puppies can get into serious trouble during the holidays.
Simple management can help to keep your pup safe this holiday season.
1. Protect your pet from holiday decorations. Put glass ornaments higher on the tree and the less breakable ones lower where your pup won't be injured if he knocks a couple off. Instead, you can use a baby gate to keep your pup out of the rooms with fragile decorations.
2. Do not feed your pup from the holiday table. Holiday meals are generally high in fat, salt, and spices. Eating foods like these when the body is not accustomed to them can easily lead to pancreatitis, which will equal a hospital stay in short order.
3. Prepare your pup for visitors by making sure that he responds well to the “sit” and “go to your bed” cues. These are essential cues in order to decrease jumping and begging at the table.
4. Get your pup used to confinement. Similar to young children, there are some aspects of parties that are not appropriate for puppies. Maybe you have a family member who is afraid of or allergic to dogs. Maybe there's just someone who you would not trust to be around your pup. Either way, your pup is better in his crate. Crate training is an essential part of every puppy’s life. You can find out more about the importance of crate training here: Everyone Needs Their Own Space.
5. Keep your pup from escaping. Make sure that your puppy has been microchipped. Microchipping is the process by which a tiny identification device is placed under your puppy’s skin. Most veterinarians and shelters have scanners that can identify your puppy, facilitating his safe return to you. Every puppy should be microchipped. Your puppy should wear a buckle or snap collar made of nylon or leather with his identification tags and his microchip tag on it during the holiday season. Finally, block off the entry way with a baby gate that opens easily and closes on its own so that your guests can move in and out without letting your dog out. Make sure to close your front gate once all of the visitors have arrived.
6. Keep your puppy occupied. Even if your puppy is allowed out to enjoy the holiday celebration, your friends and family most likely do not want to spend the entire time entertaining him. Use food toys to keep him occupied so that everyone enjoys the holiday season. You can stuff his breakfast and dinner into these toys along with tablespoons of canned food or white meat chicken. Freeze the toys overnight and you have hours of fun for your puppy without any worry for your guests.
7. Don't ever leave your pup unattended with a Christmas tree or a lit menorah. Use common sense when you include your puppy in the festivities. If you would not leave a toddler in a room by herself, don't leave your puppy there either.
Be safe this holiday season, and don't forget to get a gift for the puppy.
Dr. Lisa Radosta