How to Prevent Dog Emergencies During the Holidays (and Anytime)

As a dog lover, you do whatever you can to keep your dog safe. After all, it’s what we do.

Yet during the busy holidays, there are many things that can go awry when it comes to your pets. 

We think you’ll agree that the holiday season can provide the perfect storm of busy schedules, decorations, rich food, and scattered focus. Whether it’s traveling, hosting guests, or holiday parties, the period from Halloween through New Year’s Day can be fun but draining. It can also present plenty of opportunity for a variety of dog emergencies resulting in panicked phone calls to the emergency vet or even a trip to the emergency room. Prepare yourself by taking precautions ahead of time.

Consider the issues discussed below to better prepare yourself ahead of time and prevent dog emergencies this holiday season.

Gastrointestinal (GI) Distress  

Whether your dog helps himself to the candy dish or Great Uncle Joe can’t restrain himself from slipping turkey skin under the table to Chester, there are many opportunities for your dog to eat food that could prove dangerous. Let’s take turkey for example.

Did you know that eating the skin or even the dark meat, can cause a dangerous condition in your dog called pancreatitis?

It’s true.

The pancreas is the organ responsible for producing insulin and digestive enzymes but when your dog eats certain fatty foods, it’s unable to digest them adequately resulting in a dangerous and painful inflammation of the pancreas.

According to the Pet Health Network, “Veterinarians see an increase in pancreatitis around the holidays since many people think a nice way to celebrate is to share their holiday meals with their dog. In addition, dogs that get into garbage are much more likely to develop pancreatitis, so be sure to keep your trash out of your dog’s reach!”

Confused Schedules  

During this busy time of year, it’s not uncommon to disrupt your routine…and thus, your dog’s. But dogs LOVE routine. It helps keep them calm because they know what to expect. So, if you usually walk your dog at the same time each day, please try your best to stick to that schedule as it will help your dog feel less stressed.
Also, if you have a high energy dog, it’s essential to give them daily outlets for their enthusiastic nature. Otherwise, they may take it upon themselves to eat your furniture, your holiday decorations, and more, leading to the above-mentioned GI distress.

dog christmas safety hazardsLack of Pet Proofing

Then there’s the matter of houseguests who may not be sensitive to the rules of your home which means doors or gates may be left open and dogs can escape. These same guests may also leave suitcases or purses within reach of your dog which means your dog might eat someone else’s medication, sugarless gum with the toxic ingredient xylitol or who knows what else? You may find it’s easiest to confine your dog to a particular familiar room or part of the house that you can thoroughly “doggie-proof.”

“Doggie-proof” more than you think necessary.  

Depending on your dog and household activities, you may choose to keep your dog crated in a different room during high activity (and meal times.) It’s always a good idea to keep a wary eye on your dog and see how he reacts when you decorate for the holidays. If you have a younger dog and he seems overly interested in the decorations, you may opt to make sure the decorations are out of reach because things like electrical cords, ornaments, and even plants can be dangerous for your dog.  You may not realize that these can make your dog very sick if he eats them. So, if your dog is prone to chewing on things within his vicinity, please take extra precautions to keep your dog away from them.

Bite Wounds 

Sometimes other dogs come to visit and they might be housed together. Imagine, your sister’s dog coming for a visit. Maybe her Chester has never met your Max before. In order to keep them out of the kitchen, you lock them up together in an upstairs room but they’re stressed from travel and upheaval and have a bit of a scuffle. It happens. Bite wounds are among the top dog emergencies that occur over the holidays and with a little preparation, you can prevent a trip to the emergency room. 

How do you prepare?

First, keep your emergency veterinarian’s phone number handy and know where the nearest veterinary emergency hospital is. Next, take extra precautions, such as extra doggie-proofing, to prevent dog emergencies. Perhaps have crates available for multiple dog situations.  As you probably know, it’s sometimes easiest to put a bit of extra responsibility on yourself than to rely on others to follow directions.


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