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Keep your furry friend safe this Christmas
With Christmas Day festivities only a few days away, millions of families world wide will be celebrating the birth of baby Jesus, with presents stacked around the base of lovingly decorated Christmas trees.
Colourful shimmering trees will draw your pets like magnets, and in particular puppies and young dogs that haven't experienced Christmas before.
At such a joyous time it is so easy to overlook that a lot of pet emergencies occur around Christmas time, simply because decorations (ribbons, tree ornaments, ribbons, hooks etc.), and electrical cords are left lying around and within easy reach of family pets.
Even if your tree is already up, or you are just putting the finishing touches to decorating it, spare a few moments to go over the following safety precautions to make sure you have a "pet-safe Christmas tree" and no unexpected mishaps or accidents.
Choose the right spot
Pick an area where the tree can be enjoyed by the family but not so much in the center of activity that it can be easily knocked over by an exuberant dog. An area by a wall or in a corner is ideal and out of the traffic flow pattern of the house. Try to place the tree near a power socket so you don't have to run electrical cords long distances.
Prepare the area
Lay down plastic sheeting or buy a "tree bag". This is an extra large trash bag used for live Christmas trees. Center the tree on the bag. When the season is over and you have removed the tree ornaments, pull the bag over the tree. This will catch the pine needles as they fall from the tree, and and prevent them from being chewed or swallowed by your dog.
Secure your tree
Many trees have been sent flying by a rambunctious dog or puppy. Dogs can knock over a tree by rubbing against it or playing under it. Pets can be injured if the trees or ornaments fall and break. To avoid this, place the tree in a corner and secure it from two sides to small hooks in the walls.
Another trick is to place a small hook in the ceiling above the tree and use clear fishing line from the top of the tree to the hook. Apply gentle tension and tie it. The clear line is invisible.
Hide the cords
Electrical cords are a grave danger to pets, especially puppies and that tend to chew on anything in sight. Cords can cause electrocution and serious injury or even death to dogs. Secure the cords by positioning them higher than your pet can reach or try hiding them with special covers.
Check your ornaments and replace hooks with a loop of string tied in a knot. Ornaments often fall from the tree and pets may catch their mouths on or swallow the hooks.
Choose safe ornaments
There is no perfectly pet-safe bulb, as any ornament can be ingested and cause an intestinal obstruction. Pet "safer" bulbs would be plastic or wood.
Glass bulbs on the lower tree limbs can be especially dangerous. If broken, dogs can step on them and cut their feet or worse, e.g. pets can chew on them as they would a ball causing them to break, resulting in mouth or throat trauma and bleeding.
Many pet owners have learned the hard way not to place any ornaments on the lower limbs. Ornaments made of food are especially attractive to pets, and should not be hung on your Christmas tree.
Big red velvet ribbons are a lovely addition and may replace tinsel and garland that can be eaten by dogs and caught in their intestines. Dogs are especially attracted to the bright shiny tinsel and this type of decoration should really be avoided in households with dogs. Ingestion of this material can cause intestinal obstruction that may require surgery.
Dogs love to investigate and most don't understand that the presents are not meant to be opened before Christmas Day. Decorative ribbons and string can be ingested, gifts can be destroyed by a playful pet. Consider storing the presents in a safe area until right before Christmas Day or make sure your pet is always supervised while investigating and searching for his own special gifts.
Sweep and water
Sweep up the pine needles. Ingestion of needles can cause vomiting and gastric irritation. Keep the tree watered and only turn the lights on when you are at home. Risk of fire is always there with a live tree. Do not allow your pet access to the tree water to drink.
The safest thing to do is to allow your pet access to the tree only when supervised. Pets that continue to want to bother the tree should be discouraged by using positive reinforcement to leave it alone. Apple vinegar or bitter apple can be sprayed on low branches for persistent chewers.
Please Click Here and listen to Dr, Andrew Jones's video on how to avoid deadly pet hazards during Christmas holiday festivities.
This article and information forms part of the Carole's Doggie World Library and is presented for informational purposes only and not intended as an endorsement of any product. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian. Instead, the content offers the reader information researched and written by Carole Curtis for www.carolesdoggieworld.com
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A special tip from Carole -
I have used Rescue Remedy (shown below) for the past 24 years (actually, lets be specific - I have used it for my darling doggie Poppie and her predecessors) and found it absolutely marvelous! If you need to calm your pet down at any time, give it a go, you won't regret it (Poppie usually uses it before her bath time). Each bottle lasts her for ages!
Rescue Remedy Pet
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