While the holidays are a fun and festive time you also want to make sure they are enjoyable for your four-legged family members. To keep your pups safe and engaged in the holiday activities we rounded up some of our best tips. Learn how to stay safe and avoid common hazards this holiday season.
Practice fire safety (for the whole family)
The colder weather brings additional risk of fires as we work to keep our homes warm and cozy. Gas heaters, ovens and space heaters have all been known to cause housefires. Holiday lights and decor pose additional risks. To keep your family safe:
- Keep candles, including holiday menorahs away from pups. This also includes not putting them too close to the edge of the counter where over-eager paws or tails could hit them.
- Don’t leave animals or small children unsupervised around an open flame.
- Turn off and unplug Christmas lights when not in use.
- Keep an eye on the oven. Burned cookies, overboiled mulled wine and other culinary disasters can lead to fires or the smoke detector going off - which can scare your pup and hurt their ears!
- If you have a Christmas tree, don’t put ornaments too low on the tree and supervise your pup around it. Pulling down the tree could lead to electrical issues, fire, or injury.
- Have an emergency plan and practice fire drills regularly - this includes your pets.
Beware broken glass
Delicate ornaments, Christmas lights, and figurines that come out this time of year can be dropped or knocked off the counter or tree easily. Check your decor regularly for any sharp edges, chips, or breaks. These can cut or scratch your pup. Broken glass on the floor can scrape or injure paw pads or delicate bellies.
If any glass does break be sure to clean it up right away. Lights, snowglobes and other decorative elements can contain chemicals that can make your pup sick or small items that can pose choking hazards.
Minimize strange noises and objects
Outdoor blow-up decorations or figurines that play music or move can be scary to your pup. If your dog is showing signs of fear from your decor, you may want to put the offending object away. While it might be funny to watch your pup bark or growl at a life-sized reindeer, you do not want to cause your pup unnecessary stress.
Dogs show signs of stress and anxiety by moving away from objects, licking and yawning. If you see your pup offering any of these behaviors around the decorations in your home, removing them or placing them in a room your pup doesn’t go in might be your best option.
Help your pup participate in holiday traditions
While its true there are many dangers for pups at the holidays, there are also a lot of ways to have them participate in the fun.
1. Involve your pet when decorating for the holidays
If you decorate a Christmas tree, you can invite your pet to hang out with you while you do it. To keep your pup from getting tangled in the lights or trying to eat the ornaments, bring their bed or a ‘place’ into the space and use the command go to your bed or go to your place so your dog has somewhere safe to stay. If this is a challenge for your pup you can offer a stuffed Kong, bone, or other long-lasting toys for them to work on while you decorate.
2. Decorate with dog toys and festive bedding
If your pup gets into everything and you don’t feel comfortable having them around a tree or other holiday decor, consider making your space feel more festive using toys and blankets designed for dogs! A snowflake bed with a pillow and blanket is the perfect set this time of year. For a larger pup, this Christmas tree lounger will make any space feel more festive. If your dog sleeps in your bed, there are many brands that offer holiday themed sheets and blankets.
For pups on a mission to steal your stuffed animals, consider offering them their own. From a teddy bear in a holiday sweater to a Dreidel puzzle there are many pet safe options to choose from. You can even buy a tennis ball wreath!
3. Bake cookies your pup can enjoy
If you love to bake lots of holiday cookies, you can include your pup in this tradition. We’ve rounded up a few great cookie recipes or you can look for a recipe including your pup’s favorite flavor. If you’re not a big baker, there are plenty of holiday-themed treats available in the stores and online -- no oven required!
4. Include your pup in festive attire
If you and your family participate in the tradition of matching sweaters or pajamas, include your pup too. Target, Old Navy, and many other retailers now make matching sets for the whole family. If your pup hates to dress up, consider a matching bandanna or a collar in a similar print to your outfits.
5. Let your pup unwrap some of their own presents
Tearing, chewing, and digging are all natural dog behaviors. These skills can come in handy when opening gifts. If you want your pup to have something to do while the kids open presents, consider wrapping a few gifts for your pup. Let them tear, dig, and burrow to find something new and exciting. Just remember to remove any tags, plastic bags, or staples that could injure your pup in the process.
6. Ensure your pup has an updated ID and Microchip
If you are celebrating open house style, or headed to a family affair out of town with your pup, ensure they are wearing a (festive) collar and have a microchip. If your dog somehow does manage to slip out an open door or break in your Uncle's fence, you have a much better chance of being reunited safely and quickly if your pup is easy to ID.
No matter how you celebrate we hope you and your loved ones have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.