Guild of Shepherds & Collies

10 Holiday Safety Tips for a Healthy, Happy Dog

10 Holiday Safety Tips for a Healthy, Happy Dog

holiday safety - rachel ahrnsen

Humans envision the holidays as a cozy time spent with family and friends, but for dogs, this season can be filled with injuries and stress. Here are some tips to ensure both you and your canine companion have a happy (and safe) holiday season.

  • Travel

If you’re traveling, leave your dog at home. Dogs are more comfortable in familiar territory, and dislike the stress and commotion of travel - even more than people do. Ideally, find an experienced pet sitter or person familiar with your dog to care for them on their own turf.

If leaving your dog at home isn’t an option, we recommend reading Winterizing Your Dog, Part 3, which provides travel safety tips whether you’re on the road or in the air.

  • Table Scraps

Don’t give your dog table scraps. It’s tempting to offer a sample of your grandmother’s famous apple pie to your dog, but the reality is that most human food is bad for dogs. Holiday fare, usually full of fat and sugar, is even more likely to upset your dog’s stomach. And don’t forget that a holiday staple, chocolate, is toxic to dogs. So keep your chocolate chip cookies and boxed assortments well hidden.

  • Toxic Plants

Skip the Mistletoe and Holly. Holly, when eaten, can cause stomach issues for dogs. Mistletoe causes stomach and heart problems. Use replicas if you want to decorate with these seasonal plants.

  • Guests

Prepare for guests. If your dog is comfortable with guests, let your visitors know the rules for your pet (don’t feed them scraps, don’t touch their bad hip, etc.). Closely supervise young children to ensure they do not harass your dog by poking or pulling on him. If your dog does not do well with strangers, give them a safe space to retreat, such as a crate in another room.

  • Cold Temperatures

Prepare for the cold. While most breeds of collies and shepherds have thick coats, it is still necessary to take extra precautions in the cold, especially if they live outside. Make sure they have a warm, watertight shelter. Winterizing Your Dog, Part 1 goes into detail on this topic.

  • Wrapping Paper Dangers

Clean up after unwrapping presents. Ribbons, string, and wrapping paper are all hazards to your dog. You don’t want to return your presents so you can pay to remove ribbons from your dog’s stomach. After unwrapping presents, clean up the wrapping paper and trim.

  • Fire Hazards

Remember that puppies and fire don’t mix. While most adult dogs have the sense not to investigate fire closely, puppies may need a little extra reminder to keep their nose out of the fireplace. If there are lit candles within reach, puppies can knock them over, causing damage to themselves and your home.

  • Live Trees

If you have a live Christmas tree, don’t allow your dog to drink the tree water. This water can contain toxic fertilizers and is a breeding ground for bacteria.

  • Pretty Decorations

Watch your decorations. Collies and Shepherds are intelligent, curious dogs who want to investigate everything, often with their teeth. If you want your holiday wreath to remain intact, place it out of reach.

  • New Year’s Eve

On New Year’s Eve, prevent your dog from running away. The firecrackers exploding, pots and pans clashing, and noisemakers popping all night long are enough to frighten normally calm dogs. The highest number of dogs are lost on the 4th of July for this same reason. So on New Year’s Eve, bring your dogs inside and safely secure them in an escape-proof room. (It’s also best to give them extra TLC if they’re scared.)


Keep these tips in mind throughout the holiday season and you can stay off Santa’s naughty list!


Article By:
Rachel Ahrnsen




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