What to Do When Dogs Fear Face Masks

When dogs fear face masks it can be traumatizing just to go for their daily walks.

As the world changes and people begin to come out of isolation, we will be changing many of our daily habits and routines.  One of the most common new things is that many will be wearing face masks to protect themselves and others.  While we are learning to adapt and communicate with our faces covered, our dogs may be very confused by the inability to see facial expressions.  Dogs may be stressed when they see people sporting their new fashion masks.  So, what do we do?  When dogs fear face masks it can be very traumatic when passing someone on the street or when her owner walks in the door looking like Darth Vader.  I found a few hints and tips to help your doggo adapt and to feel comfortable with this new reality.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Tip #1:  Make masks a common household item.

If you have a few masks (or even just one), you can leave them around the house in plain sight.  Placing them in areas that are familiar to your dog including her sleeping area, hanging from a chair in the kitchen or dining room, on the hook where you hang your keys or even wrapped around her treat bag.  By placing the masks where your dog can see them, they become routine, day to day items.  This will offer some familiarity and reduce the element of surprise.

Tip #2:  Let him sniff the mask.

If you hold the mask and let him sniff it, he can see that it is just another object and not something to be guarded against or feared.  Becoming acquainted with the unknown can ease stress.

Tip #3:  Put your mask on in front of your dog.

If you put your mask on in one room and then walk into the room where your dog is, he may be shocked or outright scared.  Remove the element of surprise by putting the mask on while your dog watches.  She will see the transition from the real you to the masked you and the transition will be smoother.  By seeing that it’s you “getting dressed” the level of fear will be reduced.

Tip #4:  Wear your mask around the house.

Now that your dog has watched you put the mask on, try wearing it around the house.  Wear it while you play a game of fetch. Enjoy a brief training session or a belly rub with your mask on. By doing this she will make the correlation that masks are for good times.  Just wearing it around the house while going about your day, will make the mask common place.

Tip #5:  Use treats to associate a potentially scary thing with a positive thing.

If you give your dog a treat when you hold the mask, when you put it on or when you are wearing it, he will associate the mask with good things.  When you are walking your dog and he sees other humans with their masks on, have some treats ready before you cross paths. As you and your pup approach people you can give your dog a small treat before the shock or fear of seeing the masked people occurs.

Note:  Dogs will not be able to read facial expressions through the mask.  They will only see eyes.  Using soft praise, gentle tones and attempt to make your eyes speak rather than your smile. It will help you to communicate with your pup in a new way.

When dogs fear face masks you can help by having a small treat ready on your walks. You can give him one before approaching masked people.

Not all dogs will be afraid.  Some won’t even be fazed by the change.  Those that are nervous, new to your household and adapting, coming from bad situations or who are just generally skittish will need some extra time to get used to the changes going on around them. When dogs fear face masks it can be traumatizing just to go for their daily walks. By using the ideas listed above, you can help to make this transition a pleasant one.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

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My Dog has Dandruff

There are several possible causes and symptoms of dandruff in dogs. If you see flakes on your pup or on any surface where he has been resting, be sure to look for further symptoms. Contact your vet and have your dog properly inspected to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

I was giving my dog, Zorro, a massage the other day.  His black coat is shiny and smooth, but I noticed that he had many little white flakes all over his back.  At first, I thought it was dust and wondered where he would have been to get covered in dust.  I looked a little closer, brushed back his fur a little and realized that it was coming from his skin.  My dog has dandruff.  I hadn’t seen this before so I set out to learn the causes and symptoms of dandruff in dogs.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

Is dandruff a common occurrence for dogs? 

Dandruff is common in dogs.  You may notice it on your dog’s fur, although it is more difficult to see on a lighter colored dog.  You may also see it on your dog’s bed, blankets, coat, car seat, harness or on your furniture.  If you discover that your doggo has dandruff, it is important to narrow down the cause so that it can be treated appropriately. 

What are the potential causes?
 There are many causes and symptoms of dandruff in dogs, They range from environmental to more serious underlying medical issues.
There are several possible causes and symptoms of dandruff in dogs. They range from environmental to more serious underlying medical issues..

Dry Climate

Allergic Reaction

Diet is missing something – Often Omega 3 or Omega 6

Grooming – Too much or too little


Infection – Fungal and Bacterial




Because of the wide range of symptoms and causes of dandruff in dogs, it is important to narrow down the environment(s) that your dog has been in recently. Learning the source will help to find the appropriate treatment.  If your dog is showing any other symptoms, seek the advice of your veterinarian immediately as there may be a more serious underlying cause.  Early detection and diagnosis of any pet ailment or concern is key to having the best chance of recovery without permanent damage.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

If the only symptom is dandruff, here are some questions to help narrow down the possible sources of your pup’s dandruff:

Has the weather become dryer or has the heat in your home been turned on recently?

Weather changes to dryer conditions or the furnace in your home running can cause your dog’s skin to dry out.  This would cause flaking and itching.

Has your dog eaten anything new?

Food allergies are common and can result in itchy, dry, flaky skin. If you have changed your dog’s food, treats or if he has managed to get into the garbage, he could be having an allergic reaction

Have you changed anything in your home or yard (cleaning products, plants, garden)?

Has your dog been laying on your freshly cleaned carpet or furniture?  Has he been rolling on the lawn after a treatment?  If so, his skin may be irritated.  Even the use of new laundry detergent or fabric softeners on bedding, dog coats or your own clothes can be a skin irritant.

Is your dog’s diet rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6?

These two fatty acids benefit the dog’s skin.  If your dog food is lacking in either or both of these nutrients, he may develop a skin irritation resulting in dandruff.  The best source of Omegas is directly from foods, but your vet may recommend a supplement to add to your dog’s daily routine.

How often do your bathe and groom your dog?

If you bathe your dog frequently, you may be accidentally drying his skin.  Shampoos, soaps and hair dryers can take their toll on a dog’s skin leaving it dry and flaky.

Has something changed in his daily routine or in the home?

If your dog is upset, if his little world has been disrupted in any way, he may be stressed.  Something as simple as moving his bed, or location of his dish can cause anxiety for some doggos. If his human’s work routine has changed, a new family member has arrived (human or fur), or if someone in the house is stressed or sick, your dog may be feeling anxious. Stress is a common cause of dandruff.

Does your dog have visible skin irritation?

If your dog has fleas, a recent cut or if he has food allergies, the skin can develop a fungal or a bacterial infection.  Consult a vet if your dog’s skin appears red, crusty, has bald or thinning patches of fur, or of he has an unusual odor.  All are signs of infection. These skin infections can cause dandruff.  

Has your dog’s once smooth, shiny coat become dull and coarse?

These are a couple of the symptoms of hypothyroidism.  He may be itchy and develop sores. He may begin shedding more than usual.  There are many other symptoms of hypothyroidism, including ear infections, fatigue and aversion to cold.  It is important to have this condition diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian immediately.

Does your dog have mites?

Mites can cause many types of skin irritations including itching, hair loss and dandruff.  If you suspect mites, have your dog tested and treated.  Some species of mites can be transmitted to humans and other pets. Some species of mites result in mange, another skin disease found in animals and birds.

Is your dog’s flaky skin located mainly on the face, and torso?

These areas contain sebaceous glands.  If the dandruff that your dog is experiencing is predominantly in these areas, he may have a skin condition called Seborrhea. The skin will appear red and flaky.  Your dog will also be itchy.  This is another condition where your dog might develop an odor.  Once diagnosed, a veterinarian will be able to recommend shampoos or medication to clear it up.

There are several possible causes and symptoms of dandruff in dogs.  If you see flakes on your pup or on any surface where he has been resting, be sure to look for further symptoms.  Contact your vet and have your dog properly inspected to rule out any underlying medical conditions.  Have a list prepared for the veterinarian.  The list should include all foods and treats that he has consumed, any recent changes in the home, any contact with other animals, bathing routines, soaps, shampoos, cleansers and detergents used in the home, and anything unusual behavior that you may have noticed recently. Any insight into the cause will assist with the diagnosis.









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Why is My Dog’s Stomach Gurgling?

Gurgling, also known as borborygmi or Borborygmus, occurs when the dog’s digestive system is processing food. Quiet noises coming from the abdomen are normal. Louder noises can be normal as well, or they can be a symptom of something more serious.

The other night I woke when my dog became restless.  Zorro rarely wakes in the night so I was a bit concerned, although he seemed fine.  He had some water and got back in bed.  Then I heard my dog’s stomach gurgling.  It was quite loud.  He was having trouble sleeping so I thought maybe he had to go out.  I let him out in the yard, but after several minutes he still hadn’t done anything and was happy to go back inside.  After returning to bed, his stomach was still rumbling quite loudly.  I massaged his tummy for a while and he fell asleep.  Unfortunately, I did not.  I was very concerned as to what was causing the discomfort and what I could do to help.  Because I was concerned that this could be something serious I decided to get up and do some research.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

What is gurgling?

Gurgling, also known as Borborygmi or Borborygmus, occurs when the dog’s digestive system is processing food.  It occurs in animals just as it does in humans.  The food is chewed and swallowed and then begins its journey through the stomach and intestines.  It’s during this process that gurgling happens.  Quiet noises coming from the abdomen are normal.  Louder noises can be normal as well, or they can be a symptom of something more serious.

I am neither a veterinarian nor medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

When is gurgling considered normal?

There are a number of circumstances which cause gurgling that are not a cause for serious concern.  These include:

  • Regular Digestion
  • Gas
  • Air passing through the system
  • Eating something that didn’t agree with your dog
  • General hunger

If your dog has recently eaten, she may have swallowed some air while eating.  This air may be moving around in the digestive tract and causing the sounds.  If she has lapped up water very quickly, there may be excessive air, which would create larger air pockets, thus causing louder noises as it moves its way through.  This generally does not cause pain or distress.

If she has eaten something that doesn’t agree with her, such as something she found on the street, she may be having a mild reaction to it. If her food has changed and she hasn’t adjusted yet, it can create some discomfort, just as it could in a human. Either of these situations can also cause gas. Usually, this will pass through and she will feel better soon.

It may simply be that your dog is hungry.  The body continues to process anything remaining in the digestive tract, but if there are little or no contents in the intestines, the system is only processing air and liquids. This is when the louder gurgling begins.  Once she eats, the body should adjust to the normal routine.

When you should be concerned:
A dog’s stomach gurgling is usually not serious, but if accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, it can be cause for concern.

If you see any of these symptoms in your dog, you should take her to a vet immediately.  There may be something more serious going on:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargic
  • Swollen stomach
  • Restlessness

Sometimes these symptoms can indicate a blockage or partial blockage in the intestines.  Your dog may have swallowed something around the house, outside in the yard or even on a walk with you.  If the object doesn’t move, food cannot pass through normally.  Because some or all of the food that your dog has eaten remains in the digestive system, she feels full and will not eat.  The small amount that does pass through will be mostly liquid, resulting in diarrhea. Depending on where the blockage is located, any food that has been consumed may be regurgitated (vomited).  A lack of food and nutrition will cause lethargy. Vomiting and diarrhea will rapidly cause dehydration and should be treated as quickly as possible.  Intestinal blockage is very serious and requires immediate medical attention.

If you notice that your dog’s tummy is swollen (blown up like a balloon) and that she seems to be having trouble settling down, this could indicate a condition called Bloat.  This is very serious and requires immediate medical attention.


Gurgling, on its own, can be caused by a number of circumstances, most of which are harmless and will go away within 24 to 48 hours.  If the gurgling is accompanied by any other symptoms, you should have your dog examined by a vet.  There may be a more serious underlying condition that needs to be addressed with medication or even surgery.  It is important not to wait if your dog is in any discomfort or distress as time may be of the essence.

Follow up on my dog’s condition:

Two days after the gurgling incident, Zorro woke several times in the night and eventually he vomited. A few hours later he had an episode of extreme diarrhea.  I made a vet appointment immediately.  He was put on a special diet for three days and has been given some medicine to coat his stomach in case of irritation.  The vet wants me to collect stool samples over the next few days to be analyzed. 

There has been no more vomiting.  We are keeping a close eye on him to be sure there are no further issues. So far Zorro is eating, sleeping and playing well and is almost back to his old self.





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The Dangers of Dogs Playing with Balloons

Many years ago, I took a St. John’s Ambulance Infant CPR course.  The instructor spoke to us about the dangers of children choking on small pieces of food and small toys, but one of the things that stood out for me was the information about the dangers of balloons.  These concerns do not just apply to humans. The dangers of dogs playing with balloons are just as serious. 

This post may contain affiliate links. Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you. See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Balloons are bright and shiny.  They bounce and wiggle.  These are very enticing attributes to any doggo.  The urge to chase and bite are overwhelming.  But balloons burst and break into small pieces.  The repercussions of the popped balloon can be very dangerous to your dog’s health. The damage can be permanent or even fatal. Here are some dangers to consider when deciding whether or not to decorate with balloons when you have a dog:

Eye Damage or Blindness

When your dog bites a balloon or holds it in his mouth, it puts pressure on the rubber, causing it to expand to full capacity.  Eventually it bursts and the pieces fly around your dog’s face.  It snaps with enough force to cause a whipping reaction.  If a piece lands in your dog’s eye(s) or whips the eyeball as it flies by, the eye can be damaged.  If it strikes a specific part of the eye it can cause permanent blindness.

Intestinal Blockage
If a dog swallows a balloon, or even a piece of a balloon it can result in intestinal blockage which requires emergency surgery.

Another one of the dangers of dogs playing with balloons or finding a piece of broken balloon, is that they are likely to swallow it. The piece can make its way down to various levels of the intestinal tract.  Although sometimes it makes its way through (and out), it can also expand and block food from passing.  This intestinal obstruction will have to be surgically removed.  Symptoms of blockage include vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms can take days or weeks to appear as the blockage can take this long to occur. 

I have witnessed this delayed blockage with one of my dog walking clients.  Although it was not a balloon that he swallowed, the progression of the blockage was similar. At some point he had swallowed a piece of corn cob and it was about 6 weeks before the symptoms developed. Emergency surgery was required.  The vet determined the time frame from ingestion to surgery based on the condition of the cob piece once it was removed.  Until the vomiting and diarrhea started, he was acting like his normal, fun loving puppy self.

Extreme Choking Hazzard

A small piece of a balloon can cause one of the most dangerous of choking hazards.  The balloon, or piece of balloon, can get caught in the throat, blocking the windpipe (trachea).  The dog cannot breathe in.  Should you see this happening and attempt the Heimlich Maneuver, it may not work.  

The Heimlich Maneuver uses the force of air pressure from the abdomen and lungs to push an item that is lodged in the throat out through the mouth.  When the object is a balloon, the forced air from the abdomen blows upward and instead of forcing the balloon out of the way, the rubber/latex expands, just as if you were blowing the balloon up.  There is no way for the air pressure to dislodge the balloon. In fact, this procedure can make it worse by moving the offending piece to a more dangerous position.

The length of time it takes to remove an obstructed object determines how much permanent damage is done.  The longer the body goes without oxygen, the worse the level of damage will be. 

When you have pets, it is wise to decorate without balloons.  Yes, they are bright and cheery and fun to play with, but is it worth your dog’s safety?

Alternative Decorating Ideas

There are a number of alternative ideas for decorating that are equally as bright and cheery that are safe for dogs and children.

  • Bubbles: Dogs love to chase the moving bubbles and they are fun to have floating around during a party. Bonus: They are very affordable.
  • Streamers:  Brightly colored paper streamers are very festive.  They can be placed higher up so that pets cannot get to them.  Bonus:  They are reusable.
  • Pinwheels: These brightly colored wheels move and spin for outdoor parties.  They provide the bright and shiny attributes of balloons and can be placed in a variety of out of reach places or bunched like a floral arrangement.  Bonus: You can make your own and they are reusable.
  • Paper Flowers or Pom Poms: Both are round and full. They come in any color and can be hung from the streamers, just like balloons.  Bonus:  Making your own can be a lot of fun and they are reusable.
  • Honeycomb Balls:  These carved paper balls look just like balloons and can be hung from streamers, in bunches or placed on sticks or straws to appear the same as balloons on a string.  Bonus:  Reusable and flatten for easy storage.

As you can see, there are many ways to decorate and a number of bonus reasons to choose any or all of the listed alternatives to balloons when decorating around pets or children.  The biggest bonus is that everyone will be much safer without the risk of suffocating on a balloon. Having said that, any item that a dog can rip up or shred has the potential to get stuck in your dog’s digestive tract.  It is important to keep all decorations out of reach.

One last note:

Even if you do not have a pet or children, your balloons can float off and land somewhere that does.  They can land in oceans and forests.  The fish, sea creatures and animals who live in these areas can be harmed without the option of veterinary surgery to help them. 

Please choose wisely.

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Preparing for a Road Trip with Your Dog

You should be prepared with anything you may need on your road trip, and you should prepare your dog for his road trip as well.

So, you are preparing to go on a road trip with your dog.  Maybe you are off to the cottage, maybe to another city, maybe camping.  You should be prepared with anything you may need, and you should prepare your dog for his trip as well.  Last year, my family and I went on a 10-day road trip with our dog across the east coast. We were camping in many places, and visited family for a couple of days along the way.  Our dog had a great time exploring, hiking and spending a lot of family time with us.  It can be a lot of fun for everyone of you are well prepared.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Before you leave, here is a list of things you should pack for your pup:

Car Seat: 

Car seats for dogs are available in all sizes.  If your dog has his own space where he can see out the window, he won’t feel the need to move around.  He can have his toys close; he has a comfortable place to sleep, he can see everyone and he can enjoy the view from the car window.

Be sure to choose a seat that can be strapped in using your car’s seat belt to keep it from moving or falling.

Seat Belt: 

If you are not going to use a car seat, you can opt for a seat belt harness for your pup.  These offer safety and comfort.  The vest harness allows for evenly distributed restraint should you have to stop fast.  This can save your pup from injury.  Having the seat belt attached securely to the car’s seat belt clip offers a certain amount of mobility within the vehicle without causing a distraction.

Car Seat Cover: 

Your dog will be getting in and out of your vehicle for pee breaks and to stretch his legs.  There is a strong possibility that he will track dirt, mud or wet feet into the car.  If you cover your seats with a seat cover or “hammock” your leather or upholstery will be protected.  These also offer a bit of a barrier between the front and back seat, which provide a clear division between front and back. This makes the seating arrangements clear for your pup.


Your dog is going to be away from home and may find his new surroundings frightening or stressful. Bringing his favorite blanket will offer something familiar to ease the discomfort.  The smells in the blanket will be those from your home and your will help to put your pup at ease.

Dog Bed: 

Having his own bed along for the ride will provide all the comforts of home.  If this is too much to carry along, try using the car seat once you arrive.  He will be very familiar with it by the time you arrive at your destination so it will be a comfortable sanctuary for him.


As with the blanket, familiar toys or stuffed animals will provide the familiarity of home.  A Kong or other small chew toy will keep your dog busy while driving long distances.  Once you arrive at your destination your dog may not understand all of the changes going on around him. These items will offer comfort in an otherwise confusing situation.

Medical Records: 

If you are crossing the border you will need your dog’s paperwork. In case of injury or illness while travelling a new vet will benefit from knowing your doggo’s medical history.

GPS Collar: 

When you are in a strange place, having a GPS collar will be a significant benefit should your dog become lost.  These collars are crucial when trying to find a lost dog.  They allow you to track your dog’s location on your cell phone for a quick and safe return. See: GPS Trackers for Dogs and Cats

Micro Chip:  

Having your dog micro chipped also increases the likelihood of having your dog returned should he become lost.  It is a quick procedure done in your vet’s office.  Your dog has a microchip inserted between his shoulder blades that contains pertinent information about you.  Should someone find your dog, this information will help a vet or shelter find you.

Collar with Tags:  

Make sure your dog is wearing his tags.  This is the first thing someone will look for if your pup is found.  Make sure your current cell phone number is on the tags as you will not be home to answer a landline.

You will need your dog’s leash and harness for pee breaks and hikes while on your road trip.

Your dog’s leash and harness will be needed for pee breaks while travelling.  You will also need it to go for walks or hikes while you are on vacation. 


If you are at the cottage or staying with friends, you may want to bring a lead so that you can let your dog out without worrying about him wandering off.  You should always watch him while he is out on the lead, but this gives him a little bit of freedom from the house and the leash.  The lead is longer and he can move about more freely.


If your dog is crate trained, you will want to bring a crate that folds flat.  You will need it at your destination, but the ability to lay in flat in the vehicle makes it easier to pack.


Bring along 2 unbreakable bowls.  These will be used when you take driving breaks, so you want to make sure they are not going to fall and break.  Something with a lid is even better, as you may want to offer your pup food or water while on the go (of course, this would be done by a passenger and not the driver.) If they can be stored with the contents in them, it saves a lot of fussing with water bottles and food bags.  You should make sure that the bowls are easily accessible so that nobody removes a seat belt. 


Bring some nutritious treats along.  If your pup becomes restless or needs to be coaxed back into the vehicle on one of the breaks, a treat will help.  You will want to have them for your vacation as well.  Your dog will be in an unfamiliar place and may require some refresher training with regards to social skills or recall.  The treats will be helpful.


Always carry bottled water.  Should you have car trouble, weather issues that cause delays or even find that the water where you are staying is a little sketchy, you will be glad you have some extra water.  If you are heading to the beach, always have fresh water available so that your dog does not consume salt water.  This can be fatal.  See Dogs and Salt Water.


Bring enough food to last 3-4 days longer than you expect to be there.  You never know what can happen with weather, vehicle issues or any other any unexpected occurrence could prolong your stay.  Make sure you have a little extra to tide you over.

Poop Bags: 

Throw some extra poop bag rolls in his doggy bag.  It never hurts to have too many!

Jacket and Boots: 

Depending on the time of year, you may need a warm jacket and boots to protect your pup from the elements.  Even when it is warm out, you your doggo may require a raincoat.  If you are into hiking or long walks, it would be more comfortable for him to stay as dry as possible.


You never know what you will experience while on the road.  On any stop along the way the ground may be muddy or wet.  When you are vacationing, you may be walking in a multitude of situations.  Having a towel to wipe muddy paws before reentering the car or house/hotel will make things much more pleasant for everyone.


When you are out with you pup, you may run into a lot of messy situations.  You may be playing or swimming at the beach.  At the end of your day, when you return to your vacation home, your pup may need a bath.  Lake water, salt water, sand and mud should all be washed from your dog’s fur to avoid skin issues.  Should you be in a cottage environment, you may want to carry the ingredients needed for skunk smell removal.  You never know who/what you dog will come in contact with.  See: Best Skunk Smell Removal Recipe for Dogs

Bug Repellent:  

Just like humans, dogs can get bitten by mosquitoes and other bugs.  There are a number of repellents specific to dogs available.  There are also natural remedies to help repel bugs.  Be sure to check labels and ingredients before using anything on your dog.

Road trips can be a lot of fun with your pup.  Being prepared makes everything run smoothly.  Grab your doggy bag and enjoy your trip!

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Pet Proofing Your Home at Christmas

We all want that perfect Christmas, filled with decorations, food, friends, family and, of course, fur babies. To make it perfect, it is important to pet proof your home. You may be surprised at the number of potential hazards lurking among all of those beautiful, cozy and yummy items traditionally found throughout the season.

We all want that perfect Christmas, filled with decorations, food, friends, family and, of course, fur babies. To make it perfect, it is important to pet proof your home. You may be surprised at the number of potential hazards lurking among all of those beautiful, cozy and yummy items traditionally found throughout the season.


When you are setting up the tree, keep in mind the kinds of decorations you are using. Glass trinkets, edible baubles, shimmering tinsel and strings of lights can be dangerous when your pets decide to play. Pups and kitties are curious at any age. Placing a tree full of shiny objects in the living room, will certainly pique the interest of most animals.

Glass trinkets and lights can fall and break, leaving your pet’s paws vulnerable to painful cuts. It’s best to place the unbreakable ones where the animals can reach, and the more delicate ones closer to the top. I usually tie these ones on a little tighter, either by using string or by winding the wire hooks around the branch to help support them should the tree be climbed or shaken by a wagging tail.

There are many decorations made of chocolate or candy, that can cause serios harm. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and many candies contain Xylitol, which is also highly toxic.

Tinsel glistening as the light bounces off of it looks like great fun to jump up and play with for a kitty. Unfortunately, if it is ingested by dogs or cats, it can get caught in the intestines, resulting in a blockage that could require surgery. I gave up the tinsel many years ago when my kitten got it wrapped around her neck. The more she tried to get out of it the tighter it seemed to get. I had to use scissors to remove it. I’m just grateful I was home to help her.

The Christmas Tree

The tree should be on a wide sturdy base and, if possible, stabilized with fishing line attached to something solid like a a bannister. I had one friend that put a hanging plant hook in the ceiling and attached the fishing line to it. He simply hung a plant there the rest of the year. This is not a solution for everyone, but I thought it was a very creative way to protect his pets from having a tree fall on them.

Another concern would be a putting up a real tree. The tree itself is safe, but the sap that comes off of it can cause stomach upset. The needles can damage eyes should your pet get too close. If your dog swallows the needles it may cause him to vomit. Pine needles stuck in little paws can be uncomfortable, so it is important to keep the area swept.

Setting up an artificial tree is generally safer for pets, but it still requires that you be cautious. Puppies and kittens are chewers and could ingest things that could be health hazards.

Traditional Plants

Holly (the plant and the berries) and Mistletoe are notoriously found in homes over the holidays. These two plants are highly poisonous to both dogs and cats. Keep them up high and out of reach. If your pet swallows either of these plants, seek veterinary help immediately.

A few more things to look out for or avoid

Artificial snow (canned, spray on) contains chemicals that are poisonous to dogs and cats. If your pet licks it off of the tree, a decoration or a paw that has stepped in it, there could be serious complications. It may be best to just avoid this one altogether.

Ribbons, if swallowed, can cause intestinal blockage.

Candles. Wagging tails and climbing cats can get burned if the candles are accessible. Should the lit candles to be knocked down, there could be significant damage to your home and put your entire family in danger. Placing candles out of reach and opting for wide based or enclosed holders can reduce the risk. Always put candles out when you leave the room.

And finally, food.

There are many foods and treats left sitting out when you are entertaining over the holiday season. Guests who may not be pet savvy may unknowingly set a plate down with a turkey bone remaining on it or leave an alcoholic beverage in an accessible place. Be aware of what your guests are doing. Make sure no one is feeding the animals table scraps or treats that may be harmful. Many people are not aware of foods that should not be ingested by animals. Their good intentions may have not-so-good results.

Christmas is a time for fun and celebration for the entire family. By taking the time to pet-proof your season, you will ensure that this holiday season will be perfect!

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