Christmas is coming, and everywhere is starting to look very festive. If you share your home with a dog, be sure to watch out for these hazards as not all decorations are harmless; some can be deadly.
Whether real or artificial, Christmas trees can cause problems for dogs.
Real trees: The tree itself is mildly toxic and may cause mouth irritation or stomach upset if eaten, while the sharp needles could block or puncture the digestive tract or injure sensitive paws. A less obvious hazard, though, is perhaps the tree water, as it may contain a mix of chemicals, including fertilisers or pesticides. These may be toxic if drunk, so it’s best, if you can, to cover the water and keep thirsty doggies away.
Artificial trees: Plastic trees need the same caution as all other plastic decorations and packaging as they may cause choking or block the digestive tract if eaten.
Like many other things we use to make our homes look, smell and feel like Christmas, fake snow can be toxic to dogs if they ingest or inhale it. If you plan on using some as part of your display, do your research first to make sure the fake snow you chose is safe for animals to be around. If you’re unsure of the ingredients and know that your dog has snuffled some, it’s best to be on the safe side and speak to a vet.
No Christmas decorations are complete without some twinkling fairy lights, but if your dog likes to chew, think about taping wires down and keeping them out of reach, as chewing through wires will not only destroy your display but also could cause electric shocks.
Glistening tinsel: yet another exciting addition to your home that will be tempting for playful pups. This could just be harmless fun, but if your dog does accidentally swallow some tinsel, they won’t be able to break it down, and it could cause blockages or damage to their insides. If it goes down the wrong way, they may choke or suffer breathing issues. It’s best not to take the chance and keep it out the way.
With all the excitement of Christmas, it is easy for things to get knocked, fall and break. While many ornaments will bounce and be fine, glass ones may smash and send little sharp shards flying around the room. If this happens, put your dog out of the way while you clean up to avoid cut paws and noses.
It is also a good idea to look out for the bits and pieces that come along with Christmas decorations. Bits of string and wire that help to keep your decorations in place can cause serious problems for dogs should they decide to have a chew or feast on what was attached to them.
What’s more attractive to a curious canine than a flickering light in the corner of a room? Candles look and smell fabulous at Christmas time but remember that your dog has a very sensitive nose and may get agitated with the smell. More important, though, is the risk of burns and fires. It is very easy for a playful pup to knock over a lit candle, burn itself with the flame or the hot wax and set fire to your home. If you want to light candles, keep them out of the way.
While beautiful and a symbol of festive cheer, the poinsettia is toxic to dogs and needs to be kept out of the way. Eating the leaves may irritate the mouth and stomach and cause diarrhoea and vomiting. The same goes for other Christmas plants, such as holly, mistletoe, and ivy.
While there’s nothing quite like a bowl of potpourri to make a room look and smell festive, if you have a dog, make sure yours is well out of reach. The pinecones, bark, and other dry parts may cause problems if chewed, but the main problem with potpourri is the essential oils. The mixes that create all the festive aromas are toxic when eaten or when they come into contact with the skin. Among the many effects to look out for our burns, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of coordination and issues with breathing.
Salt dough decorations
If you are making salt dough decorations this year and have animals in your home and around your tree, keep the decorations out of the way. Because while you may not think of taking a bite, they may smell tasty to your food-loving pooch. The high salt content is toxic and can cause serious issues, includingorgan failure. Signs to look out for include: drinking excessive water, going to the toilet a lot and looking bloated. If a dog in your home eats your decorations, don’t wait around to see what will happen, take them to the vet. The earlier, the better.
While broken glass and little paws are never a good mix, it’s not the most worrying thing about snow globes when it comes to dogs. If one breaks in your house over the festive season, it’s the liquid inside you need to watch out for – it’s not water. Many contain ethylene glycol, a chemical commonly found in antifreeze, and it is extremely toxic to dogs. Ingesting ethylene glycol can be fatal, so if you suspect your dog has been lapping up the sweet-tasting liquid, take them to the vet immediately, don’t wait for symptoms to show.