Holiday Hazards Part II: What's Lurking in your Home, by Deborah Shores, DVM

In my previous article about Holiday Hazards, we covered toxic products that are poisonous upon ingestion. However, it’s important to be aware of other dangers lurking in your home. 
Tinsel and Ornaments

Tinsel can be very eye-catching and it may captivate your dog’s attention. Although this is not a problem, it can be troublesome if your dog decides to taste it. Tinsel can be fatal because it twists inside your dog’s intestines. 

Some Christmas tree ornaments can attract your dog’s attention as well. Place ornaments made of glass or metal higher up on the tree, out of your dog’s reach. If swallowed, ornaments can be a danger to your dog’s mouth or intestines, as well as being a choking hazard. 

Lights and Candles

Although holiday lights are beautiful to look at, they can pose a hazard for your canine. Many dogs, especially puppies, like to chew and may decide to gnaw on a string of lights or electrical cords, causing electrical shock. Symptoms of electrical shock include a painful, burned mouth, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rhythm, loss of consciousness and sometimes death. Keep your holiday lights and electric cords out of easy access for your dog. 

Candles can also be dangerous. Place your candles in spots your dog cannot reach. Not only can your dog be easily burned if he/she gets too close, but he/she may accidentally knock over a candle with his/her tail. 

Gift Wrap

It’s best to discard ribbons and bows from holiday presents so your dog won’t decide to chew or swallow them. Ingested ribbon is a choking hazard as well as a danger to the intestines. 

Liquid Potpourri

Although filling your house with the smell of nutmeg or other lovely spices for the holidays may seem like a good idea, it is a potential hazard for your pet. If your dog ingests or makes contact with the substance, it can cause serious skin irritation. Wash your dog’s fur if this happens. We suggest avoiding liquid potpourri and using plug-in air fresheners instead. 

Quiet Space For Your Dog

If you have family and friends over for the holidays, make sure your dog has a quiet, safe place to retreat. For many dogs, lots of people can cause excess excitement and sometimes anxiety. Secure a room that your dog can spend some quiet time in when he/she has had enough of socializing. 

It’s also important to keep track of your pup — with many people coming and going in your home, sometimes your dog can slip out without notice. Remember to put a collar on your pet with your phone number in case of emergencies.  The best option is to have your pets microchipped, as this will provide permanent identification if they ever become lost. 

Although the holidays are a joyous time, they can also cause a lot of stress. If your holiday decorations are dog-proofed, you’ll have one less thing to worry about! 

Happy holidays to you and your pups!

ABOUT Deborah Shores, DVM

Dr. Deborah Shores is a graduate of the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many years of experience working in animal hospitals and clinics from Virginia to South Carolina, treating mainly dogs and cats. She has a special interest in nutrition and holistic veterinary medicine and plans to pursue an acupuncture certificate at the Chi Institute in Florida. She has two cats and recently lost her 8 year-old Australian Shepard to liver cancer.X

Leave a comment