Spring Holiday Hazards: How to Keep Your Dog Safe!

By Kathy Santo | Updated: April 18 2019

The spring holidays are upon us, and so are some common hazards for dogs!

We want all our students to know how to enjoy the festivities, while simultaneously keeping their dogs safe.

Dangerous Foods:

The following can be toxic to dogs: chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, garlic, onion, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, bread dough, and sugar-free candy and gum containing the artificial sweetener xylitol.

Regular Foods:

Despite tradition, cooked bones should never be given to dogs. Even beef, ham, and other “regular” foods that are not considered toxic can cause illness in dogs.

Hosting Parties And Visitors:

Visitors can be stressful for dogs! These are tried and true tips for helping your dog have the best experience possible when the gathering is being held at your house:

  • All dogs should have access to a comfortable, quiet place inside if they want to retreat, such as a room or crate away from the commotion.
  • Inform your guests ahead of time that you have dogs or if other guests may be bringing dogs to your house.
  • Guests with allergies or compromised immune systems (due to pregnancy, disease, or medications/ treatments that suppress the immune system) need to be aware of the dogs (especially exotic dogs) in your home so they can take any needed precautions to protect themselves.

Guests WITH Dogs?

If guests ask to bring their own dogs,  and you don’t know how the dogs will get along, you should either politely decline their request, or plan to spend some time acclimating the dogs to each other, supervising all their interactions, monitoring for signs of a problem, and taking action to avoid injuries to dogs or people. Dogs that are nervous around visitors should be put it in another room (or a crate) with a favorite toy. If your dog is particularly upset by houseguests, talk to your veterinarian about possible solutions to this common problem.

Watch The Exits:

Even if your dogs are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely, especially when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming guests and collecting coats, a dog can easily make a break for it out the door and become lost.

Identification tags/collars and microchips will help reunite families. Make sure your dog has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information. That way, if they do sneak out, they’re more likely to be returned to you. If your dog isn’t already microchipped, talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of this simple procedure.

Clear Food From Your Table, Counters, And Serving Areas When You’re Done Using Them!

And make sure the trash gets put where your dog can’t reach it. A turkey or chicken carcass, or other large quantities of meat sitting out on the carving table, or left in a trash container that’s easily opened, could be deadly to your family dog. Dispose of carcasses and bones – and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging – in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door).

Trash also should be cleared away where dogs can’t reach it – especially grass from easter baskets and wrappings from candy.

When You Leave the House:

Take out the trash to make sure your dogs can’t get to it, especially if it contains any food or food scraps.

In many cases, if your dog has eaten or ingested something toxic, warning signs will include gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Other signs may include tiredness and lack of appetite. If your dog shows any of these signs, or if you think he or she has eaten something dangerous but is not showing any signs yet, please call your vet  right away. Treating your dog as soon as possible is essential!

Poisonous Plants:

When picking plants for your garden outside or flower bouquets to decorate your home, be aware and careful of which ones you choose!


Contains dangerous alkaloids that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression and tremors in cats and dogs.


If your dog ate this flower, it could lead to excessive salivating, diarrhea, vomiting, and a drunken gait.

Grayanotoxin Plants

Plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas, or laurels contain grayanotoxins that can cause seizures, vomiting, and cardiac arrest. While these are usually outdoor plants, pay close attention while out on walks to make sure your dog is not sniffing a neighbors flower bush that can be highly toxic!


As a dog or cat owner you should NOT have begonias in your garden. The toxins are in the stem of the plant and can cause serious burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue, and lips; excessive drooling; vomiting and difficulty swallowing.


If you have a dog who is a digger or your cat likes to explore your flower beds you should consider keeping this flower out of your garden. Most of the toxins in tulips are in the bulbs. Signs of toxicity can include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling and depression.


This plant contains lycorine and other alkaloids that can be poisonous for dogs and cats. If ingested they can lead to vomiting, salivation, and diarrhea.

We’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Let’s work together to make sure your entire family has a happy, healthy spring season!

Kathy Santo has spent her entire career as a dog trainer and handler, training dogs and winning over 500 obedience, agility and Canine Good Citizenship titles. Working with her own dogs, she has achieved every competitive obedience title the American Kennel Club (AKC) has offered and earned the prestigious AKC “Obedience Trial Champion” title (OTCh) multiple times.

In Waldwick, Kathy teaches classes, private lessons, and oversees the training of her student’s dogs using her extensive knowledge, experience and intuition to handle problems from the benign to the serious. Her engaging personality has won her the respect and friendship of her many students, who now consider themselves part of her extended family.


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