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Dublin: 4°C Monday 24 January 2022

Would somebody please think of the... dog?

Experts warn that Christmas can be hazardous for dogs and cats. Honestly.

Image: Violet Clark via Flickr

WE ALL KNOW where this ad is going, don’t we? A dog is for life, not just for Christmas.

But apparently there are other dangers dogs face around the festive season – and they don’t necessarily involve being dumped on the side of a road by New Year’s Day.

Here are some ways in which you can try not to kill or hurt your pet. We’re taking note.

  • Mind the selection boxes. Chocolate is severely toxic to dogs and cats – it causes theobromine poisoning. And according to PedigreeDogs.ie, other fat-rich foods can cause “life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas”. Yikes.
  • Harness the tree to the wall. Cats love playing with the baubles and dogs might chomp down on glass decorations so beware any low-hanging temptations for them. And they have a tendency to pull the tree down on themselves. Plus any shed pine needles in the carpet tend to get stuck in the soft pads of their paws and can get infected if not spotted. So basically, keep them out of any room with a Christmas tree in it.
  • Beware poisonous holiday plants. You probably wouldn’t chew on the poinsettia Auntie May dropped over, but your dog might. It, and mistletoe, can be toxic (hence the bright berries and flowers which nature intends to act as a warning system).
  • Hide the Babycham. According to a survey by insurance company Halifax, one in four British vets have treated a drunken dog. We have no figures for Ireland but clearly, it’s never funny or clever to intoxicate a pet for kicks and giggles. And here’s another good reason not to. Hops, used in the making of beer, can cause malignant hyperthermia in dogs, usually with fatal results.
  • Dogs love an open door. Fact. They literally turn into Pavlov’s Dog every time they see one and make a break for it. Irish dog trainer Samantha Rawson warns that a stream of visitors will mean plenty of over-excitement but also escape opportunities in abundance. “Please be aware of open doors everywhere – not everyone cares about your dog as much as you do.”
  • Danger! High voltage. It could be worse – your pet could live in Canada. Electricity company Toronto Hydro has launched a ‘Be Safe’ campaign to remind pet owners to be careful when walking their pets outdoors. The Toronto National Post reports:

Stray voltage emanating from street lamps caused the death of two dogs around the holidays last year. Toronto Hydro has said wet sidewalks, salt and temperatures hovering around the freezing point can lead to contact voltage – electricity on the outside of outdoor electrical structures such as street lamps and signs – which can pose significant shock risks.

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