Christmas Dog Safety Tips5 May 2023
Written and reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy
Christmas can be a wonderful time to enjoy with your pooch. A chance to go on crisp winter walkies and have some snuggles watching a good movie, how pawfect. Unfortunately, this time of year doesn’t come without its dangers for our precious pups, and it’s not just the food and drink, there are some other hazards to look out for to keep your dog safe and happy this festive season.
Worried about the cold? Read more on how to keep your dog warm in winter!
Overview of article:
Lots of us like to decorate our homes with festive greenery for Christmas, but we need to be sure our pooches don’t run a taste test. There are quite a few plants that can be harmful including:
Eating a small amount of mistletoe can result in an upset stomach. If your pup eats a lot of mistletoe this can be more dangerous and result in weakness and seizures, so always call your vet with any concerns if your pooch has eaten some mistletoe.
These pretty plants brighten up our homes at this time of year, but we need to make sure to keep them out of reach of nosy pups, as these can be harmful to our dogs. They tend to have to eat quite a lot of the plant to become unwell, but if they do they can suffer from drooling, a sore mouth, sickness and diarrhoea. Again, we’d recommend a quick call for veterinary advice, if you are worried at all.
After all this time telling your pups they can’t bring that soggy stick inside, you put a whole tree up in the living room? Our pups are confused and they want answers, which for some of them means having a little nibble to check for themselves what this is all about. But doggos listen, leave the tree alone, as real fir trees, although non-toxic can cause damage to a pup’s mouth and an upset tummy if too many are eaten! Some pooches can also get the tree needles stuck in their paws or in their eyes. Tree guards can be useful, make sure to choose one high enough and sturdy enough to stop even the most curious of canines.
Apart from being pretty painful to eat and irritating to the mouth and gums, holly can also cause an upset stomach, increased drooling and general depression in your pooch. More dangerous problems are rare, but not impossible, so if you’re worried your pup has eaten some holly, give your normal or emergency vet a ring to ask for further advice.
As the Christmas carol says, you can’t have holly without the ivy, but unfortunately all parts of the ivy plant are toxic to dogs. Within a few hours of contact your pup may have sickness, diarrhoea and a sore stomach, as well as drooling more than normal. Some dogs can also get irritated skin with ivy contact. So keep your pooch away and be sure to contact your vet if your dog gets too close.
If your dog does eat any plant or flower, as well as calling your vet, you should also take a photo of the plant and take this with you to the vet practice, because it can help your vet to identify what your dog has been in contact with.
With all the wagnificent decorations about, it’s common for our dogs to be nosy about these new things on display, but make sure they are all out of your pup’s reach including:
If swallowed, Christmas baubles can cause irritation to your pooch’s mouth, throat and stomach, and can also lead to a blockage in the gut. If the decorations are fragile and shatter, your dog may get cuts on their feet and body, damage to their eyes, and irritation in their mouth if they go in for a taste.
Tinsel and Ribbons
Be really careful not to let your pup get their paws on tinsel, ribbons, string or anything similar. These kinds of decorations or present wrappings can cause a thing called a linear foreign body in your pooch’s guts, which can be very dangerous to your dog! Speak to your vet immediately if your dog eats anything string-like.
Pretty, shiny lights look wooftastic, but can be dangerous to dogs if they have a chew and swallow some when they’re switched off. And when they’re plugged in they can cause electrocution as well! A lot of dogs, particularly puppies, are very curious about anything new, so make sure any wires or lights are kept out of reach.
There are so many lovely ways to make our homes smell all Christmassy, but be sure to keep these nice festive additions away from your dog including:
Christmas candles add a warming glow to your home during the festive season, but be sure to keep them out of reach of our pups. For starters, nosey snouts can be burnt. As for waggy tails, as well as getting singed, they can also knock candles and wax everywhere. And of course if the candle smells yum, your pooch might tuck in for a taste, and candles can obstruct your dog’s gut. So if you’re enjoying candles this Christmas, make sure they are out of paws’ reach.
A lot of people like putting a bowl of potpourri down, to give the house a festive scent. But make sure you place potpourri up nice and high, as you don’t want your dog having a taste test. Eating some potpourri can give your dog sickness, diarrhoea, a sore stomach and put them off their food. Worse still it can also cause them to get dehydrated, depressed, unsteady on their feet, have fits, have difficulty breathing and go into kidney failure. If your dog eats any potpourri, contact your vet immediately. It’s very likely they’ll want to see your pooch straight away.
Yes, some dogs eat anything, and batteries are unfortunately on that list. Batteries can cause increased drooling, burns in the mouth and throat, vomiting, tiredness, depression and can even cause a tear in the throat or guts if they get stuck. If your dog eats a battery, contact your vet immediately, and if possible let them know the size, shape and type of battery. Even if you manage to get it out of their mouth before they swallow, there could be some burns in the mouth or throat, so always seek advice.
One of the more dangerous household items to pets is anti-freeze. Unfortunately as it has a sweet smell and taste, a lot of dogs are drawn to it whether it’s in bottles in the garage or in a puddle under a car. It is very dangerous and can be fatal, causing neurological signs, kidney failure and other chemical imbalances in the body. If you think your dog has swallowed anti-freeze, contact your vet or the emergency out of hours vet IMMEDIATELY and be prepared to take your dog in to see them straight away!
Gloves, socks, scarves
Some dogs always love a good play with our cosy clothes, but even dogs that don’t normally eat these things can be tempted if that glove has been holding a turkey sandwich ten minutes before and now smells delish. A dog’s digestive tract gets quite narrow on the way down, and clothes don’t digest very well, so even small items of clothing can cause a blockage in the gut. Be sure to speak to a vet ASAP for advice if they have eaten any of these garments.
E-cigs and cigarettes
When you have visitors round, they might smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes, and your pooch might be interested in what these things are. Nicotine is highly toxic to dogs, and can be fatal, so be sure, as well as watching closely yourself, to ask any smokers to keep their cigarettes, cigars or tobacco away from dogs, and to dispose of any butts responsibly. If your dog has eaten any amounts of cigarettes or tobacco, call your vet or the emergency out of hours vet service immediately.
E-cigarettes also carry the fatal risks of nicotine poisoning, as well as potentially damaging your dog’s mouth and causing a blockage if the holder is chewed up. As these are often sweet smelling, a lot of dog’s are very interested in them. They often also contain the dangerous, toxic sweetener xylitol and batteries, so all in all, not something you want your dog getting anywhere near!
Other things that can cause problems to your dogs and can get stuck in their guts include parts of toys, wrapping paper and champagne corks, to mention only a few. If your dog likes to be nosy, unless you have a sturdy Christmas tree guard that you 100% trust, or a door shut between your pup and where the tree is, maybe the presents don’t need to be under the tree and can be hidden elsewhere. Most dogs are curious to sniff-vestigate something they don’t know and if their nosiness gets the better of them you might find on Christmas morning your pooch may have helped everyone out by opening their gifts for them!
Christmas is such a fun time for all the family, but it can be a bit stressful. Make sure your pooch doesn’t add to the stress, by not letting them get access to anything they shouldn’t, and if they do be sure to call your vet ASAP.
This article should never replace veterinary advice, and is given as a guide only. If you ever have any concerns about your pet’s health contact your local vet or out of hours/emergency vets immediately.
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