Simple Steps to keep your dog safe during the holidays
Many of us are preparing to gather this holiday season to share tasty meals and make memories with the people that mean the most to us. After the pandemic, many of us will never take these times for granted again. But during the holidays, (when our focus might be elsewhere) our dogs may need some special attention to ensure their safety. Here are the top tips from Philadelphia’s favorite dog walkers to keep your monster safe this holiday season. (And really these tips can be applied to anytime you’ll have festivities in your home. Like when the Philadelphia Eagles win the Superbowl or when you invite your best friends over to watch Barbie and drink pink martinis.)
ID tags are better than pumpkin pie!
Ok, that might be a stretch, and we feel like a broken record with this. But the fact is, ID tags are your dog’s quick ticket home if the unthinkable happens and your pup gets loose. More pets go missing during holidays than any other time of year. Why? New people are in the home, folks are distracted, people might be partaking in a bit too much wine - for whatever the reason, dogs can take flight. Microchips are great and we also recommend them but not everyone knows to scan for a chip and if your dog goes missing at night, you can bet that chip won’t be scanned until a vet office or shelter opens the next day. Do you want to wait that long to be reunited when a simple tag with your phone number could get your dog home to you quicker? (Microchips can also fail or move around in the body, making them ineffective.) Tags are your dog’s QUICK ticket home. Do not underestimate their power. This is why we recommend tags 24/7! (If they are not worn 24 hours a day, they lose their effectiveness.) Don’t like the jingle-jangle of tags? You can purchase noise-free tags or embroidered collars.
My stomach feels full just thinking about the holidays but it’s a good time to remember that not all foods are safe for dogs. While it might be tempting to share some of the savory dishes with your dog, certain foods can be harmful. (Think onions, garlic, chocolate, grapes, fatty-foods, heavy seasoning, and raisins. If your dog’s GI system can handle it, there is no reason why you can’t offer your pup some lean meat or veggies you know your pup can handle. (Best to skip oily/fatty scraps or foods with heavy seasoning.) But don’t overindulge your dog! Think about sprinkling on some flavor rather than completely replacing your dog’s normal food with leftovers. (And of course some dogs can’t even handle a sprinkling of flavor. You know your dog. There are other ways to indulge a dog beyond food. Like a good long tummy scratch!)
No Bones About It:
Poultry bones, especially cooked ones, can splinter and cause grave harm to your dog's digestive tract. Do dogs love them? Sure they do! But you don’t want to spend the day after the holiday at the ER vet, and your dog doesn’t either. Avoid bones! Instead, share boneless, skinless meat in moderation along with their normal diet.
Secure the Trash and Plates:
Most dogs get into bones (and other foods they shouldn’t) via the trash. With all the funky smells wafting from the garbage bin, your dog might be tempted to go dumpster diving. Secure that trash! And make sure you let guests know if your dog is inclined to counter-surf and plate-steal. Our pup is NOTORIOUS for stealing snacks off of unattended plates so we let guests know that if they leave a plate in reach with food on it, he will find it. (And clear it in about 2 seconds when people are not looking. He's a clumsy doof, but when it comes to finding unattended food, he is a silent ninja!)
Create a safe room:
Holiday gatherings of all types can be overwhelming for dogs, especially if they are not accustomed to crowds and commotion. Make them a safe room! (We always do this on Halloween when lots of goblins and witches come knocking for treats.) Consider creating a quiet space for your dog away from the action. Even if you just put your dog in the “safe space” for some downtime so they can nap once or twice during the day, it can make a world of difference. Dogs sleep 12-14 hours a day and puppies and seniors can need up to TWENTY hours of sleep/naps. If you’re having an all-day celebration, make sure you give your dog the rest and retreat they need to prevent overstimulation.
Normal Routines are Important:
One of the things we learned as we came out of the pandemic was just HOW MUCH our dogs get used to routines. Many of our clients found that when they went back to work, their dogs were, well… a mess. Dogs thrive with routine. With the excitement of the holidays, it's easy to overlook your dog's daily routine. Maintain your dog’s well-being by sticking to their routine (as much as possible!) You might find this will be healthy for you as well. (Walks for humans are just as good as walks for dogs.) And an exercised dog is less likely to get into mischief. (Does the same go for humans? Probably!)
A lot of this might seem like common sense, but it’s often the simple things that can keep us and our families safe. Dogs are family and make sure they factor into your holiday planning this season. (Or anytime you are feeling festive in your home.)