Community - December 29, 2010

Holiday tips for dog owners

Submitted by Rick Saletta, webmaster for

The holiday break affords us a little extra time with our canine companions. However, the holidays also present a few risks to your pet's safety that families with pets must be made aware of.

If your dog stays in the car, crack the windows open and leave enough water for your short trip since the California sun heats a car rapidly, even in the winter.

If you are considering adding a dog to your family this holiday season, take a look at Pets In Need in Redwood City, a local no-kill shelter that specializes in placing small- to mid-sized dogs into homes.

Check for a list of local no-kill rescue organizations.

Many of the traditional Christmas plants — including holly, mistletoe and poinsettias — have fruit or leaves that are poisonous to dogs and must be kept well out of reach. Chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic are some of the foods that cannot be digested by dogs and can be dangerous even in small amounts.

Beware of leftovers that may contain onion powder or ground garlic. A list of harmful plants is available on our website.

Tape over electrical cords or conceal them behind furniture. Also, cover the drip pan under your Christmas tree so that your pet does not drink water contaminated with plant food or fertilizer.

Perhaps most alarming, wool does not pass through a dog's system and can be lethal. With all of the people coming and going at irregular times, the holidays can be stressful on a pet that may otherwise never chew or shred anything. (And don't pretend that you've never been stressed at Christmas.)

Do not leave your dog alone with new wool sweaters, coats and blankets.

Antifreeze is deadly to animals. In fact, most automotive fluids, such as brake and radiator fluids, are highly toxic. When guests visit, do not lock your dog in a garage where toxins are stored, and check your driveway for engine leaks after the guests leave.

Finally, put a note on the door reminding guests not to let the dog slip out the door into the busy holiday traffic.

A little advance planning will assure you can spend a safe and pleasant holiday with your family and friends rather than a day at the vet. But if you do need help on Christmas, the South Peninsula 24 hour Emergency Veterinary Clinic at 3045 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto will be open and can be reached at (650) 494-1461.

Go to for more information about this topic and about adoption, doggie day care, boarding, travel tips, and health and wellness.


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