Your Dog And The Holidays: Keeping Them Safe

Your Dog And The Holidays: Keeping Them Safe

Holidays can have additional complications as a dog owner.  People who have had dogs will know that dogs and fireworks don’t mix.  Holidays where special food is the main attraction can also be a problem, since food that is special and delicious for humans is often downright toxic to dogs.  With careful planning, dog owners can help their dogs get through the holidays safely and in style.  The holidays are often stressful enough for many people, and dog owners will have additional complications thrown into the mix.

Dogs and Protection from Fireworks

It should be noted that the main reason humans aren’t afraid of fireworks is that humans know what they are and when they’re coming.  Someone who didn’t know these things would probably be afraid of fireworks.  Dogs aren’t as afraid of thunder in many cases, because they have evolved to anticipate the onset of thunderstorms to a certain extent.  Thunderstorms also have warning signs that man-made events like fireworks shows lack, at least for beings without human knowledge.

Lots of concerned dog owners might wonder what they should do when Independence Day or New Year’s Eve is approaching.  Even people who don’t live near the stadiums where the fireworks are released might be able to hear the fireworks from their homes.  Dogs’ ears are so sensitive that even fireworks that sound quiet to humans might be terribly loud to dogs.  When it comes to dogs and fireworks, pet owners should never actually take their dogs to the fireworks shows.  However, the fireworks shows that are audible from home will still be a problem for even conscientious dog owners.

Getting thunder shirts and blankets for dogs might help.  Dog owners who are used to cuddling their affectionate dogs may be able to get some extra benefit by cuddling them as their dogs are swaddled in thunder shirts and blankets.  Dogs are emotionally sensitive creatures who will usually start to feel safer the moment their owners are cuddling them, even during times like this.  Since humans know what is going on and the fear is one-sided, it’s usually a positive bonding experience for people.

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Dogs are territorial creatures and they want to feel like they have some sort of safe space in the house.  Dogs who have a safe space like that will usually just retreat there when they’re afraid.  Dogs who have crates and other enclosed spaces will find those spots a comfort during fireworks shows so it may be a good idea to establish such a space in advance.

Dogs vary in their personalities as much as all other beings, and there are some dogs who really don’t care about fireworks.  Pet owners who find that their dogs are not affected by the fireworks should not worry that there is something wrong with their dogs.  Some dogs just get used to them.  While it is possible for dog owners to get dogs used to fireworks through classical conditioning, this is not a step that should be taken lightly. 

The conditioning process of making dogs feel desensitized to fireworks will take time, and dogs are going to be exposed to more firework sounds as a result of that process than they would have been otherwise.  Fireworks still only happen a few times a year at the most, and dog owners should ask themselves whether or not they should bother preparing their dogs for those moments, especially if the preparation itself is stressful.  Different dogs react to fireworks in different ways though, and for some it might be the best option.  

Dogs and Holiday Feasts 

The winter holidays and Halloween tend to be chock full of chocolate treats for humans.  However, even white chocolate is toxic to dogs and some Halloween costumes contain chemicals that are toxic to dogs if the dogs start chewing on them.  Pet owners therefore have to work overtime to make sure their dogs don’t get into the holiday food.

Big dogs can reach up and grab food off of kitchen counters, so pet owners should be wary of leaving food unattended, especially if they have large dogs that are prone to grabbing food off of tables.  Pet owners with kids should caution their kids against sharing table scraps with the family dog, telling their kids that lots of human food is actively dangerous to dogs and that dogs should eat their own food.

Read more about which foods are dangerous to your dog here: Dangerous Foods For Dogs

Pet owners might have to keep food in the microwave, oven, or refrigerator as long as possible until they serve it in order to keep the food away from their curious dogs.  People with little dogs might not have as much of a problem, but little dogs can be surprisingly acrobatic, so it’s a good idea not to underestimate them.
Dog owners who invest in more dog treats during the holidays might help their dogs feel full and satisfied enough to not bother people for food, but dogs of course are ravenous creatures as a rule and might still go around begging.  People might have to tell guests at dinner parties that they shouldn’t give the dogs table scraps.

Some holiday decorations can also pose a danger to dogs.  Holly, poinsettia, and mistletoe either should not be used at all, or they should be kept away from dogs.  Dogs can swallow tinsel and get blocked intestines, so keeping things off of the floor during the holidays is important.  Rest assured though that dog owners usually get through all of the holidays without any problems, even if dogs and fireworks don’t mix and never will.


Enjoy the holidays, but make sure to keep your dogs safe as well!  Maybe think bout including them in on the fun and make them their very own special treats for the occasion.  Keep an eye on them and make sure that they are safe and secure during fireworks; many dogs will run away out of fear from this event.  Monitor what they eat and make sure that your friends and family understand which foods not to give your dog.  Here is a list of food items known to be toxic or dangerous to dogs.  I hope this helps!  Happy Holidays!

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