The American Dog Trainers Network

SAFETY TIPS FOR DOGS

a photo of a dog with his head through an X-mas wreath

Holiday and Seasonal Hazards

While holidays such as Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter, and The Fourth of July, can bring us much celebration and joy, they can also offer some potential hazards to our pets. Here is a partial list of things which are potentially dangerous to your pet:


 

Aluminum Foil

When ingested, aluminum foil can cut a dog's intestines, causing internal bleeding, and in some cases, even death.

Anti-Freeze

If ingested, anti-freeze (ethylene glycol) is often lethal -- even in very small quantities. Because many dogs and cats like its sweet taste, there are an enormous number of animal fatalities each year from animals drinking anti-freeze. Poisoning from anti-freeze is considered a serious medical emergency which must be treated by a qualified veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Fortunately, the Sierra company now offers a far less toxic form of anti-freeze. They can be reached at (888)88-SIERRA.

Bloat

Bloat (gastric torsion & stomach distension) is a serious life-threatening emergency which must be treated by a qualified veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Bloat is relatively common among large and deep-chested breeds, such as Basset Hounds, Dobermans, German Shepherds and Great Danes. Many experts believe that a feeding a large meal within 2 hours of exercise or severe stress may trigger this emergency. Eating quickly, changes in diet, and gas-producing foods may also contribute to this serious condition. Symptoms of Bloat include: unsuccessful retching, pacing, panting, drooling, an enlarged stomach/torso, and/or signs of distress.

Chocolate

Chocolate contains an element which is toxic to dogs, called Theobromine. Even an ounce or two of chocolate can be lethal to a small dog (10 lbs. or less). Larger quantities of chocolate can poison or even kill a medium or large dog. Dark and unsweetened baking chocolates are especially dangerous. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include: vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, hyperactivity and seizures. During many holidays such as Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter and Halloween, chocolate is often accessible to curious dogs, and in some cases, people unwittingly poison their dogs by offering them chocolate as a treat.

Electrocution

Christmas tree lights and electrical cords can be fatal if chewed on by a dog (or cat). Whenever possible, keep electrical cords out of reach.

Fireworks

Never unnecessarily expose your pet to firecracker noise or fireworks displays, as they can cause companion animals tremendous fear, and in> many cases, long-term phobias. Make sure to keep dogs indoors, and keep walks (on a leash) very brief. Try masking loud firecracker noises with "white noise" (from the air conditioner or white noise machine), as well as with music or other familiar sounds (radio or television). Or if possible, take a brief vacation with your pet in a quiet rural area, until The Fourth of July fireworks are over.

Heatstroke and Heat Exhaustion

A dog's normal internal body temperature is between 100.5 degrees F and 102 degrees F. Leaving a dog in a parked car in the summer (even with the window a few inches open), can cause heatstroke within minutes. Heat exhaustion is usually caused by over-exercising a dog during hot weather. Both heatstroke and heat exhaustion can result in brain damage, heart failure or even death in a short period of time. To cool off an overheated dog, wet the dog's body and paws with cool water, then fan. If the dog experiences heatstroke or heat exhaustion, he should receive veterinary attention as soon as possible.

Hypothermia

When a dog's internal temperature drops below 96 degrees F (by being exposed to cold weather for long periods, or getting both wet and cold), there is a serious risk to the dog's safety. Small and short-haired dogs should wear sweaters when taken for walks during cold winter weather. Any sign that a dog is very cold -- such as shivering -- should signal the owner to bring the dog indoors immediately.

Ice-Melting Chemicals and Salt

Ice-melting chemicals and salt placed across sidewalks and roads can cause severe burning to your dog's footpads. Whenever possible, avoid walking your dog through these substances, and wash off his footpads when you return home. There are also products available such as Musher's Secret which can be applied to your dog's footpads prior to going outside, that may help reduce the pain that is often caused by road salt and chemicals.

Poisonous Plants

Dogs (and cats) can become extremely ill or even die from eating poisonous plants. Keep all unknown types of plants and any plants suspected of being poisonous out of reach of your pet, and/or spray with Bitter Apple (for plants). [See below for a partial list of poisonous plants.]

Plastic Food Wrap

Plastic food wrap can cause choking or intestinal obstruction. Some dogs will eat the plastic wrapping when there are food remnants left coating its surface.

Tinsel and Other Christmas Tree Ornaments

When ingested by a dog (or cat), tinsel may cause obstruction of the intestines, and the tinsel's sharp edges can even cut the intestines. Symptoms may include: decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, listlessless and weight loss. Treatment usually requires surgery.


 

Christmas Poodle 

 

Copyright 1995 - 2000,  Robin Kovary

Photo Credits

HOME

RESOURCES

TIPS

BOOKS

TRAINING

PROFILE

HELPLINE

LINKS

ARTICLES

DIRECTORY

Robin Kovary is the American Dog Trainers Network helpline director
 and canine behavioral consultant.