Tips for Holiday Safety
By Jo Ann White
Most of you already know that introducing a young puppy to your household on Christmas morning is a bad idea, for both you and the puppy, because there is so much else going on that the puppy is likely to become overexcited, get into trouble, or be overlooked. It is much better to put some supplies and a picture of the puppy under the tree and wait to bring the newcomer home until you can give him your undivided attention.
Meanwhile, if you already have a Shih Tzu, young or old, here are some tips to keep your pet safe during the holiday season.
Don’t feed your dog table scraps, or let your guests do so. Raisins, macadamia nuts, chocolate, and other treats can be toxic, and rich foods such as turkey can give him a stomach ache or diarrhea.
You may want to put an exercise pen around your Christmas tree to keep your pet safe. Hang only dog-safe ornaments on the lower part of the tree and remember that ribbon garlands, tinsel, glass from broken or chewed ornaments, popcorn strands, and electrical wires are attractive but sometimes deadly if ingested.
Scented candles, snow globes, wrapped packages, and other tempting holiday items can also be deadly if chewed, and should be placed out of reach of your dog.
In all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, don’t forget to keep your dog on his regular schedule for meals and outings, or fill his water bowl or bottle. This will reduce his stress level and make him less likely to get into trouble. Be sure to notice if he is becoming stressed. If so, give him a quiet time out.
Arthritis can be more troublesome in cold weather. If you have an older pet, and he seems a bit stiff or reluctant to jump off furniture or climb the stairs, check with your veterinarian to see if medication might provide him with relief. There are many new medications for arthritis that can be very effective.
If you are planning to travel with your Shih Tzu, take along his accustomed food and water. Be sure he is welcome where you are going. If not, be courteous and leave him at home or stay at a pet-friendly hotel or motel. Pick up after your dog when you exercise him, confine him in his crate when you are not going to be in the room with him, and leave a phone number where you can be reached in case he gets lonely and barks or becomes destructive. A failure by owners to practice common courtesy is one reason many hotels no longer allow dogs, so don’t spoil it for others. Your dog should also be crated or otherwise restrained when traveling in your car.
When you have company, you may want to put your dog in another room with the door closed, or in his crate, so he won’t run out the door or jump up on or otherwise annoy your guests. Putting a Kong or other toy stuffed with peanut butter and frozen into his crate will help keep him quiet and occupied during a party. Be sure he has been microchipped just in case he escapes, and don’t leave him unsupervised with small children. You, your dog, and your company will be much happier if he has learned the commands “sit,” “stay,” “down,” “leave it,” and “come” well before the holidays. If he hasn’t, make it a priority for the upcoming year!
A very happy and safe holiday season to you and your pet!