It's after Thanksgiving, and everyone's humming a holiday tune. Here's a dog lover's take on some all-time favorites:

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe: No, this song isn't about a dog that ate the mistletoe and spent Christmas Day with the vet. But it could be. Mistletoe and poinsettias are toxic to dogs (and cats). The results of ingestion range from oral irritation to respiratory distress to gastrointestinal upset, including diarrhea, vomiting and the potential for dehydration that follows such symptoms. Mistletoe poisoning is rare, but if consumed in large quantities, it can be fatal.

Sleigh Ride: This one always gets me. I hear it and am compelled to remind parents everywhere that children should not be allowed to harness the family dog and have him drag them around the yard on a mock sled. It's fun for the kid, not for the dog.

O Christmas Tree: Oh, where to begin? The traditional Christmas tree, with its lights and tinsel and delicate ornaments, is too much temptation for some canines. Whether slurping the sap-infested water meant for the tree, barking at flashing lights or pawing at shiny strands of tinsel and dangling glass balls, Christmas trees and dogs go together like mistletoe and former lovers.

Burn Little Candles: This sweet Hanukkah song for kids also serves as a reminder for dog owners that flickering candles should never be left within reach of a wagging tail. Fire of any kind requires adult supervision. And remember to unplug those tree lights at night and when you aren't home.

Jingle Bells, Silver Bells, Carol of the Bells: Bells, bells, bells! They're enough to drive a pooch straight to the spiked eggnog. If your dog is shy, timid or nervous around noise, keep the bells to a minimum — and not attached to his collar.

Hard Candy Christmas: A holiday season without sweets is like Dolly Parton without the twang. But sugar and dogs don't mix. Chocolate is toxic to most dogs, and candy canes and hard candy are simply indigestible objects for them to potentially choke on. Keep the candy dishes and boxes of chocolates safely beyond the reach of your four-legged companions.

Baby, It's Cold Outside: And yes, the pooch still needs a walk, a romp and a good old-fashioned game of fetch. This tune should serve as a warning to anyone thinking of getting or giving a puppy for Christmas: A puppy means many, many trips outside each day and night, come rain, sleet or snow.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: This song speaks to me for reasons that have nothing to do with dogs.

Deck the Halls: If you must deck your halls with boughs of real holly, take precautions to keep the leaves and berries off the floors and away from pets. Otherwise, you just might falalalala all the way to the emergency animal hospital. Holly gets its own spot on this list because it is potentially fatal if ingested by your dog (or cat). Decorate with faux holly to keep things jolly.

Consider these tips and tunes my holiday gift to you. Our pets are a part of our families. Taking the time to implement a handful of precautions this holiday season will help ensure that the most wonderful time of the year stays that way.


Dog trainer Matthew "Uncle Matty" Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series "WOOF! It's a Dog's Life!" Visit him at Send your questions to [email protected] or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.