Ho Ho Ho! Holiday Safety Tips for Pet Owners

Dalmatian by a Christmas TreeHappy Holidays from Dog Tails! All year, we’ve enjoyed sharing our stories and advice with you, our fantastic audience of passionate pet owners. We hope our blog has kept your informed about and, of course, entertained by all things canine (and feline, too)!

In our last post before Christmas, we pulled together one last list of tips to keep your pets safe during the end-of-season holiday madness. Noise, food, decorations, guests, travel – these next two weeks have it all! Follow our final list of tips for 2010, and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year with your wonderful pets!

The Food

Holiday feasts are not only tempting for us, but also for our pets. Be sure to keep an eye out for unattended plates or serving dishes left within reach. Also, don’t forget to watch the trash and any drinks – your pets can get in trouble exploring these things, too!

Extra caution is needed for specific, dangerous foods containing chocolate, xylitol, bones, alcohol or grapes. (For more information on good and bad people food for pets, check out this previous blog post and the ASPCA website.)   As we discussed in our Thanksgiving tips, leftover treats should be kept to a minimum and limited to foods that your pets have tried before without incident. (Nobody enjoys a Christmas trip to the Vet!)

To avoid food-related surprises altogether, purchase or prepare special holiday-themed treats (like these for dogs and these for cats). Inform your guests that table scraps are off-limits for Fido and Fluffy, and instead, have proper treats available so you can include your pet in the holiday festivities without risking any unintended consequences.

The Tree

The Christmas tree is a holiday tradition for many – but it can be a nightmare for dog owners. The ASPCA reminds you to securely anchor your tree to make sure it does not fall, especially if your pet likes to play near it. If you have a real tree, keep your pet away from the tree water. It may contain fertilizers, and if it stays stagnant, it can upset your pet’s stomach and cause diarrhea.

Also, keep your pet away from the tree’s strings of lights. Some dogs are tempted to chew these cords, which can cause a serious electric shock. Check for signs of chewing each day, and do not let your pet play in the tree area if these signs appear.  If you need more than a stern warning to keep your pet away from the tree, you may want to consider using an electronic indoor boundary to ensure the safety of both your pet and your tree.  Indoor boundaries also work well for other indoor areas (such as the kitchen counter!).  Check the Indoor Boundaries section of the DogWatch website for more information.

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Five Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Dog Owners

Thanksgiving is only one week away – are you prepared? Have you purchased your turkey, made travel plans, distributed cooking duties, unpacked the decorations, and worked out the seating chart? There is clearly a lot of work to do, and chances are, the family dog is low on your list of concerns.

DogWatch Hidden Fences wants to make sure the family dog has a fun, safe Thanksgiving, too, without adding too many new tasks to your growing list of to-dos. Review our quick and easy list, and don’t forget to sit back, relax, and enjoy the holiday (after the meal is served, of course!)

1) Keep dogs out of the kitchen

The kitchen on Thanksgiving Day should be a no-dog-zone. These curious creatures can run into serious trouble during this busy day – including getting burned by a hot dish or cut by a knife slipping out of someone’s hand. No pet owner wants to see their dog hurt – – or to run the risk of having the dog get into something in the kitchen that was intended for your guests. Why not send the dog out for a walk or a game of fetch in the den with the kids? You will have one less thing to worry about as you cook the turkey and mash the potatoes.

2) Watch out for bones

dogs and cat beggingBones are perfect chew toys for dogs, right? NO! Even though Snoopy carries one in his mouth all the time, cooked bones are actually very dangerous for dogs.  These bones (especially turkey and chicken bones) are often brittle and can break and cause damage if digested.  Rather than hand off the turkey bone to Fido, give him a dog-friendly rawhide bone or bully stick.  He can now safely chew and enjoy this holiday treat.

3) Don’t overdo it with the table scraps

Just like us, dogs can go a little overboard with the yummy food on this feast-filled day. Keep an eye on the amount of people food your dog is consuming throughout the day.  Bits and pieces of boneless, cooked turkey, green beans and mashed potatoes are fine – too much can cause an upset stomach or diarrhea. To avoid this potential disaster, inform all the guests that Sparky will get his treats after dinner, not at the table!

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Homemade Dog Treats: Woof Woof, Yum Yum!

making dog treatsIs your dog tired of the same old treats? Do you want to give him or her something special to commemorate a birthday, celebrate an obedience class graduation or just to make them smile?   If so, then try out some of these yummy homemade dog treats!

In this installment of Dog Tails’ Dog Treats, we have collected the best recipes from some of our favorite dog blog and websites.  From Martha Stewart’s beautiful hand-molded paw cookies to treats with healthy fall ingredients like pumpkin, we’ve got enough to keep you pup’s tail waggin’ till winter.

Snickerpoodles, from Beautiful Life Photography

These irresistible cookies, made with simple and inexpensive ingredients like oatmeal, cinnamon and applesauce, proved to be a big treat not only for this family’s dog, but also for the kids!  As you can see in the stunning photos that accompany this recipe, everyone pitched in to help.  Plus, you can mold these cookies into whatever shape you want.  Dog bones, stars, paws, squirrels – the possibilities are endless!

For the complete recipe, click here.

Paw Print Dog Treats, from Martha Stewart

The design diva, and avowed animal lover, included this adorable dog treat recipe in her popular magazine’s March 2010 issue.  As to be expected, it is slightly more complicated than the previous recipe, but still simple enough for the kids to help out with measuring and mixing.

The best part of the recipe is the signature “Paw Print.”  Once the round treats are cut out and placed on the baking sheet, the next step is to press your thumb in the middle of the circle and your pinkie finger around that thumb print, creating a paw-shaped imprint. Adorable!  Add in the coating of low-sodium chicken broth (a dog favorite) and you’ve got a perfectly irresistible treat.

For the complete recipe, click here.

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Munchers by Andrew Vargas via Flickr

Good and Bad People Food for Dogs

You’ve seen the face.  You know, the one that only appears when you’re standing at the kitchen counter preparing a meal, or eating at the dinner table, or just having a snack on the couch.  The look says, “Can I have some?  Please?  I’ve been good today.  Just a little piece, please?”

Pet owners have strong opinions about people food for dogs.  Some forbid it, while others treat it as the dog’s regular, hard-earned dessert.  A third group keeps treats out of the kitchen and dining area to discourage begging, but occasionally uses people food for treats and training.

No matter what group you fall into, it is important to know what foods are harmful for dogs, and which foods are healthy additions to their diet.  (In moderation, of course.)  DogTails’ new food series, Dog Treats, tackles this issue today.  Check out our list, and keep an eye out at home, as food-loving dogs often find both equally appetizing.

The Good

Yogurt is a cool, tasty treat most dogs love.  Stick to plain, unsweetened yogurt, as the flavored varieties often include too much sugar or artificial sweeteners – both of which are not good for dogs.  Some experts even cite plain yogurt as a source of healthy bacteria that helps dogs regulate their digestive systems.  Like humans, certain dogs will have a negative reaction to dairy, so keep the serving size small, especially when it is first introduced.

Sweet Potatoes are healthy vegetables that are often used as ingredients in pet foods.  You can serve them cooked or slice and dehydrate them to make yummy chewy treats.  Modern Dog magazine highlights this food as a great source of fiber and select vitamins.  Similarly, squash and pumpkin are also healthy veggie treats for dogs.

On the carnivore’s side, Lean Meats are a great source of protein for dogs.  When feeding dogs fresh lean meats like chicken, beef and pork, you will want to make sure that: 1) the meat is well-cooked, 2) the fat has been trimmed, and 3) there are no seasonings.  Certain herbs and spices (see below) are hazardous to your dog’s health and should be avoided.

Chicken Broth can help make your dog’s dry food more palatable.  If you’re going with the store-bought variety, make sure you pick up the low-sodium option.  Regular canned broth contains too much salt for dogs, and could cause excessive thirst or an even more serious reaction.

We recommend giving people food to dogs only in moderation, and always paying careful attention to the dog’s behavior and health when introducing a new treat.  If you have any questions at all regarding appropriate food choices, contact your veterinarian.

The Bad

On the flip side, we have foods that dogs should avoid eating.  Grapes can harm a dog’s kidneys, and should be avoided, along with raisins and wine.

Chocolate is a well-known toxin for dogs.  Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which can negatively affect a dog’s heart and nervous system.  Baking chocolate contains the highest level of these compounds, and as a result it is the most dangerous to dogs if consumed.

Alcohol is also extremely dangerous for dogs.  It can cause symptoms ranging from nausea to difficulty breathing to coma.

As mentioned above, certain herbs and spices should also be avoided.  These include garlic, chives, onions and mustard seeds.

Finally, candy is also off-limits.  These products often contain excess sugar and in some cases, harmful artificial sweeteners like Xylitol.  So remember, with Halloween just around the corner, steer your dog away from the candy baskets!

For a complete list of toxic foods, visit the ASPCA or the Humane Society of the United States websites.

We invite you to share your dog-friendly recipes here, or on our Facebook page.

Photo by Andrew Vargas via Flickr. Photo is cropped.