Bark at Me


Pet Expert Q&A
By Donna Chicone

Holiday Hazards

Over the holidays, you should factor your pets in to celebrations from a safety perspective. Costumes can be fun for humans, but they can restrict a dog’s natural movement, and most dogs do not like wearing them. Sugary foods like chocolate can be digestive nightmares and even toxic for dogs. Plants like mistletoe, glow lights, gift-wrap and ribbon can be hazardous. Decorations in general should be dog friendly.

Pet Parent Question: “I love holiday decorations. I also love my dog. How do I keep my dog safe and still enjoy my festive decorations?” 

Answer: Holidays can be a very busy time. We need to include our dogs and give them attention.

The best thing you can do is to know where your dog is. Keeping him in a safe space or room in the house when many guests are visiting could be less stressful for your dog and you. Help your dog stay occupied with special chew toys and his own healthy treats.

Hang the decorations at a level your dog cannot reach. If your dog is older (not a puppy) he may be curious about the decorations initially and then ignore them. An energetic and curious puppy is much more of a concern.

Exercise your dog to help him feel tired and expend less curious energy in the house.

Happy Holiday Woofs & Smiles!

Puppy Surprise

People often think about giving a puppy or other pet as a gift at the holidays. Most animal humane organizations are against this practice. Recently, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) cited a study that indicated many dogs given as gifts remained in the home they were gifted to and lived good lives. But overall, gifting dogs remains a concern for several reasons.

Pet Parent Question: “My son wants a puppy so much. I want to surprise him on his birthday with a puppy. What is the best way to do this?”

Answer: Research what kind of dog is best suited for your family’s lifestyle and where you will get the dog (a responsible breeder, rescue or shelter). (See the article on p. 10 for tips!)

Then prepare your home with the necessities: Crate for crate training, food, identified veterinarian, collar, leash, toys, sleeping bed, food bowls and water bowls.

When a puppy or dog is gifted, the person receiving the dog is not the one who selects the dog. Another option would be to wrap a certificate for a shelter dog. Then the family can go together and the child or adult can select the dog that is right for them.

Welcoming a puppy or dog into a family is a big responsibility. Being prepared will get everyone off to a good start.

Woofs & Smiles!  

Donna Chicone is an award-winning author, TEDx speaker and advocate for dogs. She is a former nurse, family and addictions counselor, 23-year corporate America professional, and host of Jazz and Jive’s TV Show. She is a devoted pet parent to her two Portuguese water dogs, Jazz and Jive, and is an advocate for the humane treatment of animals. She lives in Minnesota with her husband. When she is not writing or speaking about dogs, she’s engaged in pet assisted therapy work and K9 Nosework with Jazz and Jive.