Preparing your house for Christmas with Pets! | Toronto Dog Walking
Preparing your house for Christmas with Pets
As the holiday season looms nearer and there are still items needed to be checked off your to-do list, it can be easy to forget the impact certain holiday decorations and foods can have on your pet.  Dogs can sense anxiety and stress in humans, which in turn can cause them to act out in ways they may not normally behave- such as becoming destructive or stealing a stray of food off the counter.  This Christmas, bear in mind that certain plants, decorations, and foods can be toxic to your pets, and be especially mindful about what your dog may have access to.
Holiday Plants
Plants such as Poinsettia, Holly, and Mistletoe are commonly used as Christmas decorations, however they all cause irritation to a varying degree.  The toxic effect of Poinsettia has been exaggerated in recent years, but nonetheless can cause vomiting.  Holly and Mistletoe have more disastrous effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and even death.  Also be sure to clean up any pine needles beneath the tree, as they are known to become stuck in a dog’s mouth, causing discomfort and irritation.  If an excessive amount of pine needles have been ingested, a dog may suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, and trembling. 
Holiday Baking
During the holiday baking season, owners should be aware that many common ingredients could cause severe toxicity in pets.  Numerous spices, nuts, and fruits that are typical in holiday cookies and breads, including nutmeg, raisins, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and macadamia nuts can all lead to serious symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, loss of coordination, and even death.  Be particularly mindful if baking any sugar-free foods.  Xylitol, a sugar alcohol, is among the most toxic substances for dogs, and even a small amount (equivalent to a few sticks of sugar-free gum) can quickly lead to hypoglycemia, liver failure, and death. 
At the Dinner Table
Be sure that your holiday guests understand that feeding your dog table scraps is off-limits.  Fatty foods or trimmings from turkey, goose, or duck can harm a dog’s pancreatic function, causing pancreatitis.  This is especially a concern for small dogs.  Never give your pup a cooked animal bone, as it may easily splinter and cause perforations in the digestive tract.  After dinner, immediately clean up all leftovers or place them far out of your dog’s reach. 
Under the Tree
Even though a package of chocolates or gourmet coffee is nicely wrapped in a box under the Christmas tree, your dog will still be able to smell these items.  If his curiosity gets the better of him, your pup may unwrap the gifts himself, and ingest the contents.  Also be aware that scented candles and other “smelly” gifts are liable to be investigated by overly nosy dogs.  Keep these items on a shelf or in the closet until it is time to exchange presents. 
During the holiday season, have the telephone numbers for poison control or an emergency veterinarian handy.  If you suspect your dog has ingested a toxin, do not wait until symptoms appear to contact a veterinarian.  Never induce vomiting unless directed to do so.  Overall, enjoy the holiday season, but be vigilant to ensure the health and happiness of all!