Christmas is a joyous time that most of us spend with friends and family, including our pets. After all, they are part of our family and we want them to enjoy the holidays as much as we do. However, the Christmas season can be a strange, and maybe even dangerous, time for our dogs.  Their usual home environment is filled with odd, unknown noises, such as crackers and holiday jingles, and with indoor trees, decorations and sweets that can scare or even harm our pets. Since dogs are like children, curious and adventurous, it is your responsibility to pet-proof your home. By being aware of these Christmas dangers for pets, your furry friend is able to join the holiday fun and you may avoid a trip to the vet emergency room. Here’s how to keep your dog healthy and safe during the holiday season…

Decorations & candles

Glittery Christmas decorations, dangling, sparkling ornaments and shiny candles can be too much for a dog to resist. Keeping your furry family member safe during the holidays can be a difficult task because, let’s face it, with so much new glitter, colors and lights in the house a curious dog will keep you pretty busy during the holidays. Therefore, ornaments should be kept out of reach (especially fragile ornaments should be arranged securely and out of the way). In addition to causing choking, shards from broken ornaments may injure paws, mouths, or other parts of your pet’s body. A good way to keep your dog away is also to train your dog how to drop, let go and stay away from objects. Use a common command aimed at getting your dog away from items and another one to drop items. Burning candles should also be placed on high shelves or mantels, out of your pet’s way – You never know where a wagging tail may end up. Part of the problem may sometimes be the owner’s own excitement to show off shiny decorations. Try not to show sparkling decorations and ornaments in a playful or excited way. Your dog may interpret this as an invitation to play with them. And last but not least, avoid decorating the tree or house when your dog is present. Put your pup in another room or outside until you’ve finished moving the decorations around.

Christmas wrapping

When it’s time for gift wrapping, be sure to keep your pet away. Wrapping paper, ribbon, string, plastic, or cloth could cause intestinal blockage and surgery will be required. Scissors and glue (which is extremely toxic to dogs) are other Christmas hazards, and they should be kept off floors or low tables. Keep the presents in a safe place, like a room with a closed door closed. Let other family members know to keep the room closed off.

Christmas trees

Yes, Christmas trees and their decorations are beautiful to look at and they often stand as the holiday centerpiece in our homes. However, Christmas trees may pose  dangers to your pet’s health and it is, therefore, important that you pet-proof your tree. An active dog can easily knock the Christmas tree over so place the tree in a stable stand, and attach it securely to a window or wall with a string. Protect glass, delicate, and treasured tree ornaments from wagging tails or paws by hanging them higher in the tree or display them in a place that is inaccessible to your pet.

Broken ornaments may injure paws, mouths, or other parts of your pet’s body. Be extra careful with young puppies as they may not understand the hazards that a tree presents and practice commands aimed at getting your pup away from the tree. Dogs may also chew the wires from Christmas lights, which can cause electric shocks. Some larger lights can become quite hot, and could also cause burns. Do not put lights on the tree’s lower branches and unplug decorative lights when you are not home.

Christmas candy & chocolate

Keep your dog out of the Christmas candy bowl. Candy is very bad for dogs, and chocolate can be fatal. Chocolate contains Theobromine, which can cause nerve damage and even death. 2 or 3 large eggs of chocolate are actually enough to cause problems for medium and large breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers. Additionally, Don’t forget to throw away all candy wrappers before your pet gets to them, since the wrappers can cause choking. Explain to everyone in your home (especially children) how dangerous treats are to pets. If your dog has diarrhea, increased heart rate or vomits, it may be caused by chocolate overload. In this case, you should call a vet as soon as possible.

Darkness & snow

Going for a evening walk in the December snow can be a refreshing and great activity for both you and your pet. However, walking with your dog in the dark can present a number of challenges. The most dangerous and most common problem with nighttime dog walking is that other people – especially people driving cars – can’t really see you or your dog. Therefore, the best way to be safe in the dark is to be visible.