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Norwich Bulletin - 12/16/2007

Christmas Safety For Dogs

When I was a child we had a wonderful family dog. She was a Keeshond and her name was Rockrimmonís Rima of Windfall. This was the dog my mother got for me when I had been hit by a car and was told I would never walk again. I wanted a dog and my mother said that I could have a dog if I was willing to walk it every day. I said yes, and I did, painfully dragging myself and my dog around on crutches.

But Rima was my therapy and I am convinced she is why I am walking today Ė so to say that I was attached to this dog is an understatement. The Christmas of 1965 taught us an awful lot about dog safety during the holidays. The turkey carcass was thrown into the trash wrapped up in aluminum foil and we went into the living room to open presents. When we got back into the kitchen we found Rima in the middle of what was left of the turkey carcass, happily munching away on bones and foil.

Three hours later she was in emergency surgery because the bones had splintered and pierced her intestines. We did not have the money for this type of operation but the dog was an intricate part of our family and so my parents went into debt to save Rima and we all learned an expensive lesson.

Christmastime is wonderful for people, but not necessarily for dogs. We need to be very cognizant as to the dangers around us and what can happen to manís best friend if we do not take the necessary precautions. Young dogs and many bird dogs like to chew. Chewing through an extension cord can severely injure a dog and has even been known to cause the tongue to split open and need stitches! Here are some tips to keep your canines safe this holiday season.

Do not leave around your alcoholic beverages. Drunk dogs are not cute and alcohol is toxic. One ounce of a 20 proof beverage is enough alcohol to cause alcohol poisoning or coma in a small dog. Angel hair and Artificial snow can be poisonous, cause digestive upset or create intestinal blockage.

Candles burn dogs with either their flames or dripping wax. Dogs tend to jump up and get very excited and an overturned candle can cause a fire in the house. Do not burn your candles when your pet can be around them unsupervised.

If you are one of those families who love to sit by the roaring fire on a cold winterís night, you need to beware of hot ashes, popping wood and high flames. Make sure you have a fire screen in front of the fireplace while in use and use a second screen below the hearth to keep the dog even further away from possible sparks.

Donít share your holiday goodies with your dog. Buy him his own healthy treats as a gift. Our Dogo Argentino Daisy helped herself to an entire Chirstmas turkey when we left it out to cool off one year. Besides ending up with a burnt mouth and esophagus, we celebrated with a vegetarian Christmas dinner that year!

So make sure your food is not near the edge of the stove or counter. Never leave candy or cookies where your dog can reach them. Dogs are not quite as discriminating as cats as to what they eat and they tend to eat whatever they find. This can end up with choking and internal punctures (like Rima), vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, burns and throat ulcerations, just to name a few unpleasant possibilities.

Dogs can become easily tangled in lights, eat garland, tinsel, glass ornaments, even ornament hooks. They can drink simmering potpourri, eat incense, toxic Christmas plants, ribbon, wrapping paper or foil, chew childrenís new toys with small parts and choke and end up in that expensive emergency veterinary hospital we all know about and try to avoid.

When I was a single mother, my kids saved up their money to buy me some new makeup. They were very excited and I was appropriately thankful. When we returned from visiting relatives, we found that our Lab-cross Kenya had eaten all my new makeup. Besides having two heartbroken children, I had a dog with diarrhea for a few days.

The bottom line is that dogs are not as smart as cats. They will eat anything, drink anything and tear things apart. My two dogs must really be supervised during the holidays. I have lost new slippers, stuffed animals, shoes and many other new items I would have liked to have more than a day or two. Of course all this really means is that I am also not as smart as my cats.

Wishing you and your furry family a very safe and joyous holiday.

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