Holiday Dog Food Safety

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Caring for your dog means not only giving them the food they need to grow healthy and strong but also preventing them from being exposed to food sources that can cause them harm. The holidays are a time to be happy for you and your family. And during this time, you may not be always there to watch what your dog is interested in, as he goes around the house finding what he likes best. You wouldn’t want this time to turn bad when your dog accidentally ingests something that he shouldn’t have and you need to bring him to the veterinary emergency room. The food you prepared and the decorations you put up in your home to liven up the holidays can be a source of danger for your dog so you need to become aware and carefully plan to prevent any untoward incident that dampens the holiday spirit. 

Holiday foods are usually the best we prepare more than any other time of the year. We like foods with rich fatty gravy or sauces. These foods, however, can cause stomach upset or even pancreatitis which can give your dog pain and cause vomiting that can lead to dehydration. If your dog ate too much of rich fatty food, he can suffer and may have to be hospitalized. 

We commonly serve alcohol during this time and dogs are known to like it because of its sweet taste. Even a single sip of alcohol can lead to death so be sure to clean up the glasses you used after enjoying your holiday parties. 

Chocolate, tea, and coffee contain xanthines, a dangerous substance that can cause damage to the dog’s urinary and nervous system and can over stimulate the heart muscle. The theobromine in chocolate can cause diarrhea, seizures and even death. You need to make sure that your dog cannot access any type of food with chocolate as an ingredient. This includes dark chocolate, unsweetened baking chocolate, and other candies.

While smoking is known to cause many health problems in humans at any time, tobacco products are very toxic to dogs and can be fatal, if ingested. Your dog may show signs of tobacco poisoning within fifteen to forty-five minutes of ingestions. Signs include salivation, excitation,  diarrhea, and vomiting. Your dog may suffer seizures and cardiac arrest.  To prevent tobacco poisoning in your dog, keep tobacco products, nicotine gums, and ashtrays away from your dog. 

You may love to bake bread during the holidays but you should be aware that uncooked yeast dough is not good for your dog. It can expand and generate gas within the dog’s digestive system. Gas in the stomach can cause pain and may rupture the intestines.

Kids love grapes and raisins but they are toxic to dogs. An unidentified toxin can damage the dog’s kidneys. Macadamia nuts also contain an unknown toxic substance that can cause harm to the muscles, nervous and digestive systems of your dog.  

Xylitol, an artificial sweeter used in some candies, breath mints, gums, and other foods can cause poisoning in dogs. 

Dogs can smell food in plastic or aluminum foil containers and they are likely to ingest the container itself when they like what they smell inside.  Such materials can cause the dog to choke or suffer intestinal obstruction. 

It is always best to be safe than sorry so make sure you put away all the foods you prepared after the parties, and your garbage is dog-proof. The things you throw in your garbage can be potentially harmful to your dogs, especially the plastic bags and wraps which can strangle your dog.  Begging can also be a problem, and one way to prevent your dogs from begging or stealing food during your holiday parties is to feed them well before starting. 

A. Christmas Tree, Gift-wrapping and Decorations 

Your home will usually be filled with holiday colors and decorations that will surely be very attractive to your dogs. They are curious creatures so they will most likely check out all the new things around them, especially your décor. They will sniff them, chew them and unfortunately these activities often result in ingesting some foreign objects. Make sure that electrical cords are tucked away, hidden from sight. Dogs can chew on the electrical cords and cause burned mouth and electrical shock. Your dog can also die by electrocution. Some Christmas lights are large enough to become so hot and cause burns. Always unplug lights used for decorations if you are going to be out. You can also try using dog-proof extension cords, or you can spray cords with chew deterrent spray. Dogs can pull on dangling objects and cause injuries so such objects must be taken away. Do not leave lighted candles unattended as dogs could become attracted to them and cause a fire. 

Christmas Trees. If you put up a Christmas tree, make sure that your dog doesn’t drink the water in the container where the tree stands. Tree preservatives often use sugar as its base and therefore can be very inviting to your dog. The water in the tree will often contain harmful bacteria, insecticides, fertilizers, or even flame-retardant chemicals, all of which can cause health problems to your dog. Always use a tree skirt to cover the stand or use any means to make sure your dog is not able to drink the water. 

The decorations you put in the tree can also become hazards for your dogs. Make sure that the tree is placed in a stable stand. If possible, attach the Christmas tree to a nearby window or wall using a fish line. Always make sure that you are there to supervise your dog when he is in the room with a Christmas tree. 

Tree needles contain toxic substances that can cause irritation to the dog’s mouth and stomach when chewed and ingested. Do not let our dog chew on the tree branches or eat the fallen needles. Artificial trees have needles and wires that can cause problems too. Artificial snow or flocking is mildly toxic and if ingested in large quantities can block the intestines. If possible use materials that are not appealing to dogs. 

You may be attracted to the shine of tinsel and your dog too. You will not eat it of course but your dog may want to. When ingested, tinsel can cause blockage of the intestines, a condition that most likely will need surgical remedy. If you can leave the tinsel off from your tree, you will do your dog a good turn. Glass ornaments too pose serious injury hazards.  They can break when your dog plays with them as if they were balls, and cause lacerations to his mouth. Some glass ornaments have sharp hooks that can become lodged in the dog’s mouth or down the esophagus. Shiny ornaments that can break or small enough for your dog to swallow must be placed in high in your Christmas tree to prevent your dog from reaching them. 

Decorations. Some people just love to put food as decorations in their  Christmas trees. While these are tasty stuff that children love to eat, you must remember that dogs are like children too when it comes to food and the food you use to decorate your tree may not be good for your dogs at all. Gingerbread people and candy canes not only taste good but look wonderful on your tree. But your dog may come to harm if he eats them, especially if he is diabetic. Garlands made of raisins, popcorn or cranberry are quite beautiful as decorations but your dog may suffer intestinal obstruction if he eats an excessive amount of them and may have to be operated on to remove the obstruction. 

Gifts. Putting gifts under the Christmas tree is a tradition in many families. There are gifts for everyone, even for the dog of course. If you have gifts for your dog, make sure that you remove the ties or ribbons before you give your dog his present because they can cause blockage to your dog’s stomach and intestines if he happens to eat them. Also, your gift to your dog must be safe, which means no tiny pieces that could detach and likely to be swallowed by your dog.

After-shaves and perfumes you will give for other family members contain substances which can poison your dog so make sure these types of gifts are out of reach. In the same way, batteries for your children’s toys or other gifts that need batteries can be very toxic and also cause obstruction to the intestines. Put them in a separate and safe place until they are needed. 

B. Poisonous Plants 

Plants are a sure way to make your home a festive place during the holidays. Their green foliage and colorful flowers will never fail in giving your home the right mood for holiday celebrations and parties. However, many of the plants we use to decorate for the holiday season can be toxic to dogs. The leaves and berries of the holly plant can cause stomach upset and can lead to death. Mistletoe can cause the heart to collapse and hibiscus may cause dogs to have diarrhea. The sap of poinsettias is irritating and can cause blisters in the mouth and upset stomach as well. Plants have a way of uplifting our spirit and knowing that they can bring harm to dogs should not prevent you from using them to heighten the holiday mood. Just make sure that they are not accessible to your dogs. If possible, consider using imitation plants only. 



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