Puppy wrapped up in Christmas lights

While holidays from Thanksgiving to Christmas time are happy, busy times for families and friends, there are dangers lurking.

Items such as onions, raisins, grapes, alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, fruit pits and seeds, sharp bones from the turkey, yeasty dough for bread, macadamia nuts, nuts in shells, xylitol, and plants such as poinsettias are all dangerous to dogs.

Hazards surround the Christmas tree: ribbon, wire hangers for ornaments, ornaments, candles and more can cause serious problems. There are more emergency trips to the veterinarian this time of year than any other season except summer.

From a dog’s perspective, there is food everywhere and people to play with from the end of November to the beginning of the New Year. It might be fun but can be disruptive. Dogs are by nature creatures of routine and they don’t handle change well.

Potty training for a puppy can be disrupted, or if an older dog, excitement can lead to digestive issues and possibly even destructive behavior. With kids at home or having visitors, even the routine changes such as nap times and walks mess with their sense of time.

If they are used to family being at work or school during the day and now everyone is home, there goes the accustomed schedule.

The ideal situation is to keep to the dog’s regular schedule as much as possible. With the changes, expect that your dog may exhibit some unwanted behaviors. Usually they get back to normal once the holidays are over.

Give your dog a quiet space to retreat to so they can get away from activity. Play to tire them out before guests arrive and make sure they have a long walk. Do not over feed them with goodies. Turkey, although a healthy food for most dogs, can also wreck their digestion, potentially making them have malaise or even diarrhea.

If kids are running around the house, it might be likely that your dog will chase and nip them.

Have kids play outside, or put your dog outside if possible. If this can’t be done, then play time for kids might be an appropriate nap time for the dog. If you can take the dog to a park or drop them off at daycare, they will be even more tired.

Keep your dogs away from tables or food preparation areas since you will not likely see if they steal something. Feed them at their regular times but possibly move their feeding area to somewhere quiet. Don’t allow small kids to mess around near the food bowl!

If you do have small kids roaming the house, make sure they have long toys to play with the dog, to keep the dog’s mouth away from their small body parts. Try not to have kids walk around with food. Most dogs can’t resist the temptation and might steal it, and in the process might accidentally nip or graze a child’s hands – or knock over the small human.

If you are really careful, this holiday season can be enjoyed by humans as well as canines.

Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy. AlphadogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com