Holiday Safety Tips

The holidays are a time for ugly sweater parties, copious amounts of food, drinks, sweets, and gatherings with friends and family. If you have a pet in your life, there is no doubt that you probably consider them a member of the family and will have them celebrating along side you…waiting patiently for you to drop something delicious from your plate. Unfortunately, this time of year is also the busiest for Animal Poison Control Centers across the country due to pets getting ahold of holiday foods that are toxic to them. To keep your fury family members safe this season, here is a list of top holiday toxins to avoid.

  1. Chocolate

Chocolates are a must at holiday gatherings, however it is important to keep this tasty treat out of reach of your fury friend and only in reach of you. Cocoa contains theobromine, which is extremely poisonous to dogs when ingested in large amounts. Even in small amounts, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms include anxiousness, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, and even death.

  1. Tree Preservatives

If you want your Christmas tree to last until the New Year, you add preservative to the water in your tree stand. Unfortunately, the tree stand can also function as a convenient extra water dish for your fury friend. Drinking tree preservative can cause gastrointestinal upset, which can range from mild to serious. If you find that your pet has ingested this fluid, make sure they drink plenty of water to dilute the toxin. Be sure to monitor them closely through this process and contact your vet or poison control if your pet does not improve.

  1. Bones and Fat Trimmings

It is tempting, especially during the holidays, to give your pet a special treat such as bones or fatty leftovers. Unfortunately these treats can potentially cause serious issues including: broken teeth, vomiting, diarrhea, or blockage of the esophagus, stomach or intestines – which could lead to emergency surgery.

  1. Medications

Medications are usually kept up high and out of reach of pets. However, out of town guests may leave medications in their travel bags at ground level and your fury friend may find their way inside. Various types of medications can cause a range of issues for your pet if ingested.

  1. Alcohol

Various types of alcohol are almost always present at holiday gatherings. A little bourbon mixed with your cider will make you feel warm and festive, however alcohol is harmful to your pet. Even small quantities can cause lethargy, vomiting and an unsteady gait.

Keep these tips in mind when celebrating this season with all the members of your family! Your four legged family members will thank you. However, if you think your dog has ingested any toxic foods or substances, call the national poison control hotline at 888-222-1222, or the closest emergency vet clinic.

I only know what you teach me…

Dogs are commonly referred to as “man’s best friend”. This is evident throughout history and has been depicted in many was ranging from the ever popular Instagram dog selfie, to historical oil paintings of kings with their prized hunting dogs. They are loyal, aim to please, and love unconditionally. One breed that has struggled with its reputation in recent years is the pit bull. Pit bulls were once known as the All American Dog, due to their temperament of being brave, friendly, and hardworking. Due to these dogs undying need to please, they have also historically been used in dog fighting rings dating back to the 1800’s in the United Kingdom and America. Many steps have been taken to prevent these horrible rings from continuing unfortunately; they still do exist today, which has given the breed an adverse reputation. To fully understand what this type of dog and their owner’s experiences in the world on a day-to-day basis, I interviewed a close friend, Shannon, and her two-year-old pit bull, Tater.

I personally have known Tater since he was just a wee pup. I watched him bound around, chunky legs waving around in typical puppy fashion, and his big ol’ square head reaching to lick and nibble anything in reach. Two years later he has grown into the densest, happiest and most well trained dog I have ever met. He still doesn’t seem to have gained control of those chunky puppy legs, and still licks my hands like crazy every time I greet him. To me Tater is just a goofy oversized puppy; however to strangers he has the potential to be dangerous.

I asked Shannon, “When you are in public with Tater, how do people react?” She explained that walking Tater in a neighborhood or on a city street is where she receives most of the negative reactions. “People will literally cross multiple lanes of traffic to avoid crossing paths with us. People see him from afar, notice his breed, and I can only guess they become nervous, so they cross the street at any cost to get away”. She went on to explain that Tater can sense this negative vibe, which in turn makes him feel nervous and rejected. “It is something that, regardless, we continue to work on everyday. He is very well socialized and friendly.” Due to this negative reaction, she is hesitant to take Tater to dog parks for exercise and socialization with fellow dogs. She fears that if anything even slightly negative were to occur, people would automatically blame Tater because he is a pit bull mix. “It’s ridiculous because Tater is truly a delicate flower. He is so gently and nice with other dogs…but I just feel I can’t risk it. He is everything to me”.

It isn’t just negative reactions from strangers on the street that affect Shannon and Tater, finding a friendly living situation also presents a barrier. She explained that it is almost impossible to find pit bull friendly living accommodations. There are many limitations and bans of high-risk breeds in many cities. Most recently, Montreal, Canada imposed a pit bull ban. According to the Montreal Gazette three new laws were put into place and are as follows: as of October 3rd, it is illegal to acquire a pit bull type dog. Current owners of pit bull type dogs are to obtain a special permit by December 31st. If this permit is not acquired, the dog could be seized and euthanized. As well, all pit bull type dogs are to be muzzled at all times outside the home. This law also requires these dogs to be fixed, chipped, vaccinated, and permitted.

Located a little closer to home, Denver Colorado also has pit bull ban in place. According to the Denver government website, any pit bull type dog such as, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier, are banned in the city of Denver. All suspected pit bull type dogs undergo a breed assessment to determine if they have any pit bull physical traits. If the dog is determined to have these traits, owners are required by law to relocate their dog outside of city limits. Of course this is not an easy thing to do for a dog owner. The website also states that if the owner cannot or does not relocate their dog, animal services will determine the dogs temperament to be relocated to a rescue outside of city limits.

Laws in California are not this strict, however finding rental opportunities that allow the owner to have a pit bull are extremely limited. Fortunately, Shannon and Tater have a current living situation that allows them without restrictions.

With all the negative connotations that surround pit bull type dogs, I asked Shannon to explain what makes Tater no different then any other dog, and what makes him amazing. She explained, with a smile, that Tater is extremely smart, trainable and has a very happy demeanor. “Having him in my life has been a great experience for me. He’s been there for me through so much. I am grounded because he counts on me, and I count on him.” Like any dog, Tater and other pit bull type dogs just want to please their people, and to be loved. “It’s true that they only know what you teach them. They are a product of their environment, like any dog. Tater knows how to roll over, because I taught him that. He wouldn’t hurt anyone, he wouldn’t even know how.”

In recent years, it has become evident that many people and organizations have taken action to change the outlook that society has on pit bull type dogs. Social media has blown up with positive photos, videos, and campaigns to support the breed. More and more people seem to be adopting pit bull type dogs as family dogs. The more that people advocate for these dogs, we’ll be able to put a stop to the judgment and crazy laws against them.

How can you help? Always adopt from your local shelter, and don’t shop. If adopting a pit bull is your calling, Underdog Rescue can partner with you and your family to find a pit bull that is the right match for you and your lifestyle. We also supple copious amounts of training for you and your dog! If that is not in the cards for your right now, pit bull rescues and shelters are always accepting donations so they can continue to save these amazing dogs.

Alyssa Soares for Underdog Rescue