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5 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe at Hanukkah

My French Bulldog and I tell you how to avoid health hazards during the Jewish holiday.

Heather Douglass  |  Nov 20th 2013

This year, Hanukkah — the Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the holy Temple of Jerusalem — begins Tuesday, Dec. 17, and ends in the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 24. I consulted a few Jewish friends about how you can safely celebrate with friends and family and dogs while observing Hanukkah traditions and avoiding canine health hazards.

My honest advice is to just think WWRD — What Would Ralph (my French Bulldog) Do? — and then do the opposite. French Bulldogs are the clowns of the canine world and of the household here, trust me. I’m no expert, I just advise on experience. One of these days the flour story will come to light and you’ll understand.

Here are our recommendations:

1. Keep the menorah out of reach

It’s traditional for families to put the menorah in the middle of the table and leave the room while the candles burn down. For eager wagging tails and little dogs who like to jump on tables, this can be a fire lying in wait.

Keep the pups away from the menorah at all times, either in another room or kenneled until they can be managed properly. If you include your four-leggers in family traditions, don’t forget to keep your eye on them. The way I dress up my little ones, that’s all I’d need: one of them getting into a lit candle.

2. No gelt for the dogs

Chocolate coins are a Hanukkah tradition; parents often give children chocolate gelt as they play with the dreidel. Dog owners know the dangers of chocolate, so a simple reminder: Keep it out of harm’s way, and keep a close eye not only on the pooch, but also on the kid who might tempt them.

When Dairy was a puppy, our kids fed him mini chocolate doughnuts. After a trip to the vet, he got to drink a lot of hydrogen peroxide, but happily he was fine. My kids admitted they knew he wasn’t supposed to have them, but he “looked so cute” begging for a bite.

3. Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, spin away from me

This four-sided spinning top could cause many issues for a dog who likes to chew anything or everything. The top could break and become a choking hazard or blockage. The dreidel itself isn’t very large, and could also become a choking hazard or blockage. Watch where it goes after the game is over. Keep it out of the mouths of your dogs and avoid a lot of worry.

4. The Food

Traditional Hanukkah foods include latkes (potato pancakes) and jelly doughnuts, both cooked in oil. I can’t express how troublesome cooking in oil can be in general, but when we add the chaos of dogs at your feet on a holiday with excitement and traffic in the mix, it’s downright dangerous.

Put your kids to work by asking them to help keep the furballs out of harm’s way, which keeps both groups out of the kitchen. If that’s not an option, invest in a gate or keep them occupied with a treat or a safe chew toy. The smell of food is always a temptation, but try until we succeed!

Rugelach is another Hanukkah tradition that may not cross your mind as a danger, but it certainly can be. Loaded with raisins, a rugelach pastry can cause kidney issues, in addition to being fatally toxic (and the same can be said for grapes, though the exact substance that causes the toxic reaction is still unknown to veterinarians). Before you bake, check on the filling and keep it away from curious four-leggers.

5. The Gifts

Wrapping paper and presents may be fun for your dog to roll in, but it’s a scenario for trouble. Swallow a piece of tape, ribbon, even wrapping paper and off to the vet we go. Gifts of food concealed by wrapping paper may be hiding as well. Keep a bag or can nearby to dispose of trash immediately, and warn guests to keep dog-tempting packages safe from harm.

On this same note, if you buy your pets a gift, I strongly recommend removing the store wrapping before wrapping. Often the store wrap is well intended but may do more harm than good. Unwrapping gifts can be fun for pets, and you’ll be exercising caution to avoid swallow risk as it is. Keep it simple, avoid unnecessary dangers, and everyone — two legs or four — can partake and celebrate.

Do you celebrate Hanukkah with your pets? What tips do you have for us? Let us know in the comments.

Read more about dogs and holidays at Dogster:

Heather lives in Colorado with her husband, two daughters, and a number of four-leggers depending on how many fosters are residing in the house. She’s primarily a full-time volunteer where her services are needed the most.

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