Puppy vs. the Christmas tree

In the past week or two there have been a few incidents of my clients (the dogs, not the humans!) eating Christmas tree ornaments. The ornaments almost always seem to have sewing pins, glass, or something else a puppy definitely shouldn't be eating. It brings me back to my first Christmas with Bailey....

It was my first Christmas tree of my adult life, my roommate and I picked it out, set it up and decorated it with cheap ball ornaments from Fred Meyer.  The next day I came home to find broken shreds of glass (or whatever they are) all over the ground. A red, green, silver and gold glass shred confetti party on my living room floor. We turned the tree to hide the bare spots and display our other ornaments. Moments later, I watched little puppy Bailey leap up into the branches of the tree and CHOMP down on an ornament. How did I not realize this ball-obsessed retriever could understand these ornaments were anything but her favorite thing in the world - a ball for her to play with?! So, needless to say, we had a very bare Christmas tree that year.... Bailey was fine, going to the bathroom wasn't her favorite activity for a few days, but other than that she was perfectly healthy.

Here are a few of my suggestions for making sure your puppy and your Christmas tree both survive the holidays:

- Do not use tinsel on your tree, or if you do, make sure it is far out of puppy-reach. Tinsel can be very very dangerous for dogs - from the American Dog Trainer's Network:

Tinsel and Other Christmas Tree Ornaments

When ingested by a dog (or cat), tinsel may cause obstruction of the intestines, and the tinsel's sharp edges can even cut the intestines. Symptoms may include: decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, listlessless and weight loss. Treatment usually requires surgery.

- Be mindful of ornaments that may seem like a toy to a dog or puppy - anything ball shaped or plush stuffed animals. Bailey had a heyday with some little wooden Nutcracker men that had white poofy hair.... Keep these ornaments high up, or keep them in the box for this year... A sparse tree is better than destroyed ornaments and a puppy in the ER!

- Don't leave any presents under the tree that have food, especially Chocolate! Dogs can smell much better than we can and they will find that bar of chocolate or fruitcake or whatever else you may be gifting.

- Other holiday dangers you'll want to avoid with your pup are on the ASPCA page. Take a look - there may be some things you didn't know about - Holly? Mistletoe?

- Most of all, don't leave your pup unsupervised near the tree. Confine them in a different part of the house if you are gone during the day, or if they are crate-trained, this is a great time for them to hang out in their "house".

- When your pup is allowed to be near the tree, try giving them a super amazing toy (this is my new favorite - the only toy ever that has proven to be indestructible to Miss Bailey - you can get it at All The Best). If they only get this new toy whenever they are around the tree, it may help distract them from all the shiny fun toys hanging from the tree. Stuff with peanut butter and freeze overnight for longer lasting effects.

- Remember, this too shall pass! It's all a part of the joys of having a puppy. Yes, even if your puppy is 3 or 4 years old.... or older!  If you come home to a ornament confetti like I did, I highly suggest taking a picture before you get too mad or start cleaning it up. And post it to my facebook page ;)


Posted on December 13, 2011 and filed under Dog Health.