Breaking News
More () »

Tips for a paws-itively safe holiday season with your pup

An expert from Dogtopia in Austin shares tips on how to keep your pup happy and healthy this holiday season.

AUSTIN, Texas — With the holiday season in full swing, you're able to spend more time with your loved ones and furry friends. This time also comes with health and safety concerns to ensure your furry friends stay safe during the most wonderful time of the year.

Matt Urbancic, owner of Dogtopia, the nation's largest dog daycare provider in North Austin, shares tips to keep your dog happy and healthy this holiday season. 

The main concern is to keep any holiday or seasonal foods out of reach from your dog. Serious health problems can arise if your pet indulges in fatty or spicy foods, or sweet treats such as chocolates. Promptly wrap up leftovers, make sure garbage bins are pet-proofed and remind guests not to feed any of your animals.

"We always stress to our pet parents to keep their diet as consistent as possible throughout the holiday season. I get a lot of customers asking, 'Hey, my dog does counter surfing or will try to steal things from the table.' Keep them in a separate room away from the family and everyone during dinner time," said Urbancic.

Urbancic also said that if separation is too difficult, what you can do is put the dog on a leash, and that will communicate to the dog it's time to be on their best behavior.

Another concept to keep in mind is that your dog will need a "safe haven," or safe place, to unwind. Dogs, much like children, thrive on routine and experience anxiety when things aren’t as expected. Create a place for your dog to relax by setting up a quiet area with food, water and their favorite toys.

"There's a lot of energy being thrown during the holiday season when people are coming over, and the dogs are excited as well. There are going to be times when the dogs like to go lay down and to their safe place, so we definitely encourage our pet parents if they have a crate at home to let the dog go in there for their me time," explained Urbancic.

Dog experts encourage pet parents to help any guest at their home understand when the dog wants to rest, even if the guest still wants to interact with them. 

"Let's leave them alone. Let's allow them to have their quiet time. Then, when they're ready to play again, they'll come back out and they'll play," said Urbancic. 

To keep both your dog and your house safe, it’s best to keep any candles above tail-wagging range so there are no fiery accidents. Dogs can also get tangled up in electric lights or receive an electric shock if cords are chewed on. It's important to check to make sure that all lights are plugged-in correctly, and that your furry friends can't get tangled in them. 

"If you have a candle sitting on the coffee table, we encourage our pet parents to move it to a higher spot, maybe on top of the mantel and above the fireplace or on a shelf somewhere," said Urbancid.

It is also a good practice to double-check that your smoke detectors are working correctly. 

When it comes to choosing a tree for the festive season, a fake tree might be the way to go if you have a dog, as some branches have toxic oils in them. When the branches or needles are consumed, it can be toxic for the dog's immune system. Additionally, needles that have been shed can irritate your pup’s paws. Beyond that, although mistletoe is festive, the red berries can cause dehydration, diarrhea and vomiting for your dog if consumed.

"A good rule of thumb is, there's really no dog safe holiday plant out there. If you keep that in mind and then begin to understand that things such as mistletoe, poinsettias, if dogs ingest them, it could cause nausea, vomiting and really cause issues with the pups," Urbancic detailed. 

When it comes to Christmas trees, real trees are beautiful, but if purchased, be careful because those trees come with a lot of pesticides, fertilizers and preservatives within the branches. These additives will then filter down into the water in the basin of the tree, which is a popular spot for some dogs to drink out of. 

"One of the tips we always want to make sure our pet parents always have is a fresh bowl of water out for the dog and make sure you help them understand, don't drink from the Christmas tree water," said Urbancic. 

Experts say one of the best things pet parents can do is keep the pup's routine consistent throughout the holiday season, which includes exercise and socialization. 

"A tired dog is a happy dog at home and that's my job is to send the dog home happy from all the socialization, education and play. So I encourage parents, keep the routines. If you're interested in something like a daycare, give us a call," said Urbancic. 

Dominique Newland on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

KVUE on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Before You Leave, Check This Out