Christmas is coming! It’s almost here…to my fellow best friend lovers, there’s a gift planned for our four-legged friends, usually, a special gift that requires a lot of thought. As you prepare for the holiday celebrations keep your best friend in mind. Many of the decorations and trimmings are dangerous to him. For example, when you put up your Christmas tree do you trim it with tinsel? If so, stop for a minute. That tinsel can be awfully tempting to our pets! Playing with it can lead to eating it which can lead to an emergency trip to the vet when it becomes tangled in the digestive tract. Those shiny lights are a temptation as well and can lead to a “Griswold Christmas” accident which no one wants to happen. If you have ball loving friends like my boys, be aware that those colorful balls are as tempting as the yellow fuzzy ones that bounce.
As for gifts, be aware that all presents packaged for your friends are not really pet friendly. It’s been shown that many of the rawhide chews are not digestible by your dog. I thought I was doing a great job of being a dog mom when I bought the high-quality rawhide for my boys. I thank God that I was home the day Khayne, my lab, choked on it. He had chewed and eaten most of it, leaving only a palm sized piece which was very soft and floppy. I thought all was well when he lay on the floor chewing on it. The next thing I knew, he was choking, unable to breathe. With the Good Lord’s help, I was able to grab it and pull it out. It had become slimy and balled up into a throat sized blockage. That was the last rawhide I ever purchased.
I started giving my boys raw beef bones that I purchased from the butcher. I had them cut long enough that the boys couldn’t get their noses inside the ring once the marrow was gone. I had a friend whose dog got his lower jaw stuck inside the bone and had to go to the emergency vet to get it sawed off. All was well until one evening while chewing on one, Briar started choking. It appeared that the filmy sinewy part on the outside of the bone had come loose and was stuck in his throat. Again, with the help of the Good Lord I was able to grasp it and pull it free. Briar had a sore throat for a day or two from my fingernails scratching him, but he was alive. Now, my boys only get baked bones made of high-quality stuff that’s good for them and easily digestible.
Beware of toys with squeakers if your dog likes to rip them out. Baylee, my daughter’s Pit Bull loves to tear apart toys to get the squeaker out, as does my mom’s lab, Taffy. Briar and Branch like to walk through the house squeezing the squeaker toy and driving us nuts. There are dogs that once they get the squeaker out, they eat it, and it will not digest. You may have seen some of the pictures I saw where the vet has removed over 20 squeakers from a pup’s tummy. Not an operation I want for any of my babies.
Another gift I’ve seen have deadly results, is the rope chew made from nylon. As the dog chews this toy the nylon threads which are quite long can get wrapped around in the digestive tract. One sweet Golden Retriever, Harry, had to have emergency surgery because these threads had twisted his stomach and intestines. If your dog likes these toys, buy cotton. Cotton is digestible and for my planet friendly neighbors it is natural.
Now, I’ve talked about the decorations, the trimmings, the presents for your pups, and in a previous article about the food. What about presents for your people that you put under the tree? Always remember this, your dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than a human’s. For every scent receptor a human has, a dog has about 50! Therefore, any gift you wrap and put under the tree is easily identifiable by your dog. I found out the hard way that this is oh, so true.
As a veteran teacher I learned to open the gifts from my students in front of them, which I now know is the best way to go so they can enjoy seeing their teacher receive their gift. My first year of teaching, instead of doing this, I took any gifts I received home to open them on Christmas Day. I would place each gift under the tree without much thought about what was inside the package. That first year I was teaching seventh grade at Woodstock Middle School. A sweet young lady named Joyce gave me a gift about the size of a brick wrapped in beautiful paper with a bright red bow on top. I promptly took it home and placed it under our tree with the other gifts I’d been given. Misty, my first lab and wedding present from Ronnie, immediately began sniffing it. Well, she had checked out all the presents under the tree in the same way, so I thought nothing of it. Later that evening when she again was checking out that package, I gave her the “leave it” command, so she did. She left it alone immediately.
Ronnie was still working at Mac’s Superette and would often stay after closing for a while with his buddies talking, playing cards, or watching ball games. Misty and I went to bed around 11:00 pm, like usual. When Ronnie came in around 2:00 a.m. he woke me, “Cammie, did you have some candy somewhere?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure!”
“How about chocolate covered cherries? Did you have any of those anywhere?”
“No, now let me sleep!”
“I think you’d better come see this!” He persisted, so I got up. What I found was that my present under the tree was gone and little brown papers that held chocolate covered cherries inside the box were strewn down the hall. Like Hansel and Gretel, Ronnie and I followed the trail which led to the bathroom where the remains of the box, wrapping paper and ribbon lay in a heap. Misty had taken the box from the living room and opened the present for me. She then ate the entire box. I thank God that she wasn’t allergic to chocolate which could have been fatal for her. Instead, she suffered for a few days with stomach issues as you can imagine, we suffered with her. As for the thank you note to my student, “Joyce, thank you so much for the chocolate covered cherries. My family thoroughly enjoyed them!” which was true.
The moral of this story was that we were very lucky that this only caused stomach issues. The chocolate could have killed her, or she could have swallowed the ribbon or so many other disasters could have happened. Be aware of what you have under your tree. If necessary, use gates or a “pen” to keep your pets away from your gifts and decorations.
Briar, Branch, Ronnie, and I want to wish you and your Best Friends a Safe and Wonderful celebration of the Birth of the Christ Child! Merry Christmas!
Stay Pawsative and Enjoy your time with your BEST FRIENDS!