- Keep to your dog's normal schedule as much as you can. Try not to change the time he eats, when and where he plays and the time he goes to bed. Routine can be comforting to a dog.
- Having company? How does your dog respond to the doorbell or a knock on the door? If he's a barker or gets anxious or frenzied when people arrive, his response may be heightened if you are hosting a party with lots of people, noise and general merry making. If you anticipate a challenging situation at your front door, consider letting your dog hang out in a room at the far end of the house. If he loves his crate, plunk him in it. Give him a stuffed Kong or his favorite antler, turn the lights down low, turn the radio on or TV on. Close the door, knowing your dog is safe and comfortable, and go enjoy your guests.
- After your holiday meals,make sure your dog can't reach leftovers on the table or kitchen counters. And understand that what you consider garbage (all the food you toss in the trash) smells like a gourmet meal to your dog. Get the trash out of Fido’s reach as soon as you’ve finished cleaning up. He can still smell all that good stuff when you put it in your outdoor trashcan. Make sure he can’t knock that over and help himself.
- If you put up a Christmas tree, consider keeping it blocked with an exercise pen or other "fence", especially if this is your dog's first Christmas. Anchoring the tree to the wall should prevent it from getting knocked over. Assume the water required for a live tree is poisonous to your dog and make sure he can't get to it. Tree needles from live and artificial trees can cause damage to your dog's mouth, so make sure he isn’t munching up on them. Beware of lights on lower branches of the tree. They can get very hot and burn dog noses and tongues.
Be careful with glass ornaments at nose or tail-wagging height. They shatter easily and can cut your dog's feet, mouth and internal organs if eaten. Tinsel can cause a blockage in your dog's intestines if ingested and all those extra electrical cords you need for holiday decorations are a big hazard for dogs and cats. They can chew on them and get shocked or electrocuted, so make cords inaccessible.
- Burning candles on low tables are a disaster waiting to happen.
- You know those wrapped gifts you so lovingly place under the tree? To your dog, they are nothing more than fun stuff to carry off and rip apart. Keep them out of reach.
- Plants that are toxic to your dog include holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants. Make sure they are kept in places your dog cannot reach. The ASPCA has a long list of other plants that are toxic.
- Your veterinarian
- Local emergency vet (24/7)
- ASPCA poison hot line - 888.426.4435. There is a consultation fee that's worth every penny.
And with that, enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!