Episode 19: Holiday Safety for Your Pup

Corey McCusker  00:04
Thank you for joining us today. Before we get started with our podcast, I’d like to pay tribute to my close friend Diane Purser, our education manager. Unfortunately, Diane lost her battle with cancer and passed away on October 17, 2023. There was not a dog in the world that Diane didn’t love or want to rescue. Her passion was dogs of all ages, and her mission was to educate pet parents so they could provide the best loving home for their fur babies. Diana and I met many years ago when helping rehabilitate rescue dogs. We’d take the dogs for a long walk and brainstorm on things we could do to educate pet parents so that they be better informed when they adopted or brought home a new puppy. It’s supported our goal to keep these dogs with them for life and out of the shelters. Our seminars, blogs, and podcasts have been born out of these early talks. Diane’s passion will live on in Muttz with Mannerz and we will continue providing educational resources to help owners around the world. In honor of her we annually will donate to an organization that supports her goals of helping dogs live better lives. Thank you my friend Diane, and thank you for those listening today. Diane is smiling upon you as you do. We hope you enjoy the podcast.

Corey McCusker  01:24
Hello dog lovers, and welcome to Muttz with Mannerz™ Canine Academy Podcast, where we’ll share dog training tips and educational information to help you raise your pup, young or old, so they can be a loving part of your family and your community for life. I’m your host, Corey McCusker, Canine Coach, and with me today is Diane Purser, Education Manager. 

Diane Purser  01:45
Hi, everyone. 

Corey McCusker  01:46
Hi. Let me tell you a bit about our podcast today. We’re going to be talking about a topic that all pet owners should be prepared for – the holiday season. So much happens, family and friends get together, the house gets decorated, doorbells are ringing with carolers maybe, or deliveries. Being prepared is one thing and ensuring your pet is safe and comfortable is important too. Diane and I want to discuss some points and provide some tips and resources so you can ensure your holiday season is fun for everyone and safe, including your dog. 

Diane Purser  02:21
That’s great, Corey. This is important. And some of the things we might talk about might seem a bit silly, but I’m telling you, depending on your pup, you might want to take some of the things into serious consideration because it’s amazing what they can get into. Just to add to what you started saying in the intro, you know, with all the extra visiting and new people potentially coming in the house, you know, you’re inviting neighbors, your dog doesn’t maybe regularly see or, people that you work with and things like that, it can actually be a lot more confusing and stressful than you might imagine. Because it’s so much condensed into such a short period of time. So making sure that you’re watching your dog, and keeping them safe and comfortable is just really important so that they don’t get overwhelmed or maybe develop some bad habits that you don’t want to see in the future.

Corey McCusker  03:19
You know, it’s so true. And I don’t have visitors or haven’t had them in a while because I get invited other places and love to go visit other people. But also, you know, you mentioned about watching your dog and making sure that they’re comfortable because some of the people coming to your home, they might not be dog friendly people. So you have to think about that too. You may have to, you know, just put your pet away for the evening or in a comfortable safe space. So I do go to places and sometimes my dog can come but sometimes they can’t. So even if I’m leaving my pet at home, when I’m leaving Skye at home, you know she is still a young pup and she can get into trouble. So I always make sure she’s secured. But I also make sure I’ve exercised her a lot so that when I do leave her she’s tired out. I will crate her, I will give her you know a stuffed KONG, something to just entertain her for a while, but she usually just rests because we’ve exercised her. The other thing too is when we do take her I have young children like nieces and nephews and we have a new, I have a new great niece that we visit. So I have to really make sure I watch her around the younger ones when we do go. So I always have her leashed. You know I might tether it to my waist. If I am going somewhere and maybe it’s for the overnight, maybe I’m coming to visit you or something. But I’m going to bring food, toys, I’m going to bring her crate. I’m going to bring her bed. I’m going to bring some puzzles or things that she can have fun with, and I will familiarize her with the environment when I get there because it’ll be new to her, new smells, new everything. Also think about if your dog is on medication that you need to bring anything like that or if they’re on supplements, whatever, making sure you take care of it when you are traveling to visit. 

Diane Purser  05:05
Yeah, no, that’s it’s great. And you know, I’m kind of in the opposite situation of you, where yes, I do have more people coming to my house. But my little Fred is a little tiny senior. And the difference there is from Skye, who’s more outgoing and still very young and playful and that, what I have to watch with Fred is that he’s so slow and can get under foot and I have seniors or young children and that, and I have to make sure that not only is he safe, but he’s not becoming like a tripping hazard for some of the people in the house. So yeah, and you just, you got to be watching. You got to be looking after them or somebody has to be kind of dedicated to watching them. So, yeah . . . 

Corey McCusker  05:55
And you know, we were just talking earlier before we were doing the podcast and Fred was barking at the door. So that’s one thing I know when the doorbell is ringing or deliveries or people coming, the dogs can really get excited and be barky. I know I’ve got Skye who’s part Shepherd there that so she’s a little bit barky if she’s, you know- alert barky. So I have taught her to go to a mat or place just to focus while people come in, and get settled or if I answer the door that she’s not barging through the door. So that’s the other thing when people are coming and going, really watching that your dog is safe and can’t scoot out the door, too.Right. Yeah, very good.   And Diane, I know you love to entertain and decorate and all that stuff. So what are some of the things we have to be prepared for when we have the dogs?   

Diane Purser  06:43
Well, it’s funny, you know, you can go to extremes and some of the things I’m going to mention are, you might kind of roll your eyes and think, Oh, my goodness. But really, depending on your pup, you might have to at least consider. When you get your tree, obviously, if it’s a real tree, you have to watch for the needles and things as they start to drop to make sure if your dog puts everything in its mouth that’s basically laying on the ground, that’s not going to be healthy or good for them. Also, watch for the water that you put in the base of the tree to keep it moisturized while you have it up. Because that water is not healthy, and is not going to be good for them to get into and start drinking. In terms of ornaments, if again, you have a very inquisitive pup, and when I say pup, I’m saying that endearingly, I’m meaning any age and or you have one that’s very large, you have to be careful what you’re putting around the bottom of your tree. Are there things that they can break? Or you know definitely don’t put things like popcorn strings, or cranberry strings and things like that, that might tempt them to grab and pull for two reasons. One, it’ll not be good for them health-wise. But two, they could literally bring the tree down. One of the things that I know people consider is on their bottom branches, is maybe putting little bells so that they get the you know that warning that somebody’s close to the base of the tree. So that’s helpful. And then some people even find a way of tethering their tree, depending, if they’ve got it in a corner, they figure out a way to attach it to something to make sure that they’ve got some extra stability. So it really depends on your situation. But the other thing that’s also really important is all the electrical wires and cords. So be very conscious of where they are. Be very conscious of whether your dog is a chewer and likely to chew on them. Obviously, that’s an issue. But you also don’t want them, again, if even if they’re not a chewer to get tangled in them, and again, potentially hurt themselves, or potentially bring the tree down.

Corey McCusker  09:14
So true. I love the tip with the bells on the bottom, I’m going to actually do that this year. But the other thing is lots of food happening when we’re entertaining at holiday time. I mean, that’s, again, I’m going to my training tips that “leave it” command’s really important when you want them not to touch the charcuterie board that’s on the table or cheese and crackers and all of that. And also at dinner, making sure that the dogs aren’t, you know, begging for the food. But I just want to mention when the holiday food and treats are out, there’s some that are toxic, and I really want you to be aware of that. And that would include chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, and sugarless products that contain –

Diane Purser  09:54

Corey McCusker  09:55
Oh, thank you, Diane. I got stuck on that one. So when you’re putting out maybe a box of chocolates for somebody, make sure that that’s nowhere near your pup because your dog can easily unwrap that with their teeth. And if they eat it, it is dangerous to them.

Diane Purser  10:15
Yeah, I think oh, sorry, Corey. 

Corey McCusker  10:17
Go ahead. 

Diane Purser  10:17
I was just reading this. I was just going to say, because you were at the beginning talking about food you’re actually putting out and then being able to get to it. But yeah, where were you were saying at the end, do not put wrapped food products under the tree. 

Corey McCusker  10:32
100%. And the other thing, think about alcohol drinks that are being consumed and dogs can get into that. That’s not good for them. The turkey dinners too. I know a lot of people love to feed their dogs scraps. And the fats from meats and cheeses can be dangerous if they’re ingested by your dogs. The bones and fat from ham, turkey and other meats can cause pancreatitis or intestinal blocks, so you have to really be careful. And think about the mesh wrappers that are on some of those things, the leg holders. All of those things can really cause bowel obstruction and it is so yummy for the dogs that if they can get their mouth on it they’re going to be swallowing it and then you got a trip to the vet, which you do not want. So they also can get into the trash cans and that some of them so especially if they smell that really good stuff. So really being aware of everything that you’re feeding and that you’re having around when you’re entertaining for the holidays. 

Diane Purser  11:29
Yeah, that’s good, very good advice. 

Corey McCusker  11:33
Okay, and Diane, you want to touch on other things, I’m talking about the food. But I’m sure there’s other toxic things. 

Diane Purser  11:38
One of the things that gets talked about quite a bit is with your decorations are the plants that come into your house that aren’t typically there throughout the year. But regardless of whether they are or not, are not good for your dog. One of the ones that’s most typical is the poinsettia plants, which are not lethally toxic for your dog. However, they can make them extremely ill and definitely send you to the vet for care. So again, you want to be careful when they start to drop at all, if a leaf falls or anything is that it’s picked up right away. Any like little seeds or spores that come off it as it ages and that. That they can’t get a hold of that and start, you know, sniffing around and seeing if it’s something good to eat. Now the things that are toxic and must not be with your dog are the mistletoe and holly. So keeping them either very high out of the way, or perhaps depending on your dog in particular and how inquisitive it is, and lively, you might want to consider not having them in the house at all.   

Corey McCusker  12:57
And then what about the evergreens? Because everybody does, you know different decorations with them?   

Diane Purser  13:05
Well, again, I think the the main thing is the garlands and things like that, as long as they can’t get to them, and as long as you’re picking up all the time, any droppings, you can consider it. But again, I would say if you’ve got a dog in the house, you should seriously consider how much that you have in there that you have to try and maintain and stay on top of. 

Corey McCusker  13:34
Yeah, so true. And so the other thing I want to talk about is how cold it gets outside. So the weather outside. I mean, we’re in Canada, it gets very cold here. So, you know, you’ve got to think about hypothermia and frostbite, not only about yourself, but especially for your dogs, even though they have a winter coat, they can still freeze. Especially their ears and that that’s really exposed. So making sure that if it is, you know, temperatures of like minus 20 and that out there, if you’re cold, your dog is going to also be cold. And that means your walk should be shorter. You should be monitoring them. If you have, I call it a winter dog, so say you’ve got a Malamute or a Husky or even my dog’s got that, and she loves being outside but I’ve really got to monitor her. And the other thing I monitor the dogs when they’re outside is how much snow are they eating? One, it’s, they might be thirsty and they might like just picking it up in their mouth just because it’ll melt and you know if they eat too much snow, we’ve had dogs that get hypothermia because their insides freeze. So you’ve got to really consume it. We used to run playdates outdoors and we had you know, a couple dogs, we had to actually muzzle because they were just eating too much snow and we had to prevent them from doing that. We know that when it gets icy out to that’s where the de-icers come out and the antifreeze. The de-icers that are you know, your driveways, your walkways, your all of that that is being de-iced could be also a danger to your dog, depending on what’s being used. There is pet safe de-icers. I know in our town that they use sand so it’s safe for it. It’s messy, but it’s safe. But the people that use, I mean the one place I’m always cautious because we’re in a shopping mall where we are located, is the landlord’s to make sure nobody slips. They do tons of ice… like their people come out. And it’s like everywhere and the dog’s feet can get burned by it. So we’re always monitoring that clearing our walkway for them but making sure there’s no ice. So you’ve got to really make sure that you’re wiping your pets feet when they come in, making sure they’re safe. If you see they’re lifting their paw, could be one, what they’re walking on isn’t comfortable. Or it could be snowballs I call them, or where the fur inbetween their pads gets all clumped up and then all sudden they can’t walk because they’ve got these big snowballs on their feet. So really making sure that you’re keeping their feet clear and safe and clean. The antifreeze I want to talk about because it’s really highly toxic to pets, and it’s something that we’re putting in our cars to you know, make sure so that we can see when we’re driving. And so making sure that you keep that away from your dog, very high up, because it’s very sweet tasting. So if they can get to it, they do want to consume it like they consume water. And once it’s digested, it’s basically like an alcohol consumption, but it basically could be fatal and it can affect their kidneys. So really keep that antifreeze high up in the garage away from your dog, making sure that they are just safe. So those are just some of those things I want to . . .

Diane Purser  16:52
Yeah, and if I could just add to that, watch that your car, depending on if you go in and out of your garage, watch that your car doesn’t leak antifreeze, or leave it on the floor in your garage. Because, again, if you happen, when you’re taking your dog for a walk, say go in and out through the garage, or, you know, again, that’s another place where they can get into it if you’re not watching them carefully.

Corey McCusker  17:16
Definitely, and symptoms that you would see with antifreeze poisoning would be like a drunk behavior. It would be, they could be vomiting, excessive urination, drinking, or even very lethargic and depressed. So you know, just watch for that. And you know, something else just popped in my head is and this doesn’t necessarily go to dogs, this could be outdoor animals, like cats, feral cats, and that. When it’s cold out the cars once we turn it off, could be warm. And they may go underneath or get into the car because like underneath the engine or that trying to be safe. So I always like bang my the hood of my car just lightly, just in case there is an animal that’s warming up under there to just . . .   

Diane Purser  17:55
Yeah, good advice. 

Corey McCusker  17:57
Okay, is there anything else we need to touch on? There’s probably one more, or two more things. 

Diane Purser  18:01
Yeah, I think probably the last thing that goes kind of hand in hand with all the indoor decor is all the scents and fragrances of Christmas that people love. And I know that it’s very popular to have scented candles and different oils burning in the house. And that which, again, is okay, if they’re very high up, and your dog can’t get to them. But in terms of candles, in particular, if your dog tipped one over, and you didn’t notice and you started a fire. But also, depending on your candle – and I have to say kind of the quality of it, the ingredients of it – if you’re burning a lot of candles in a smaller enclosed area, that can overwhelm your dogs as well. Their scent is so much more acute than ours. And it really can be damaging to them and very off-putting for sure. So you have to be very careful. And the oils if they’re very concentrated, or if they happen to get on their coat or their paws or anything, and they lick it, it can be very bad for them. So one of the things that it’s recommended is plug-in scents. But again, I would recommend that you check it first. Check the size of your room. Make sure it’s not too overwhelming for your dog. 

Corey McCusker  19:32
Yeah, good tips, good tips. Okay, that’s great. So hopefully we’ve provided you with a number of things. I know we did go over quite a few things. And what we want to do is just make sure that you’re prepared and that you make a plan. So think about your holiday activities, whether you’re entertaining at your own home, or you’re going to visit other people, make the plan and avoid any things that can harm your dog. But most of all, be safe, have fun, and enjoy the festive season. So I just want to thank everyone for joining us today to discuss the importance of being prepared for the holiday, and tips so you keep your pet safe during this time. We want you and your pup to have fun. So hopefully we have shared some of the things that you can make sure that you do so. If you would like to learn more or listen about other podcasts, please visit our website at www.muttzwithmannerz.com. If you have any questions or a topic you’d like to hear about on future podcasts, please email us at, info@muttzwithmannerz.com Thank you everyone for joining us. Have a great festive season, and bye for now. 

Diane Purser  20:44
Happy holidays everyone. 


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