Q:This year during Hanukkah, we plan to give our children a puppy. Are there any special precautions we should take to keep the puppy safe during the festivities?
A:During each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, or Festival of Lights, as you light the candles of your menorah to celebrate the miracle that a one-day supply of sacred oil lasted for eight days, keep your puppy’s nose and tail away from the flames. You don’t want your new pup to singe his fur or knock over a candle and start a fire.
When your children play with their dreidel, the puppy will be mesmerized. Don’t let him get so close to the spinning top that he snaps it up and swallows it, or he may need surgery to remove it from his intestines.
In addition, your pup must not eat the chocolate gelt, because chocolate is toxic to dogs. Let your children enjoy their chocolate coins away from the new puppy.
As you commemorate the holiday by eating foods cooked in oil, such as potato pancakes (latkes) and jelly donuts, remember that traditional Hanukkah foods can cause health problems in dogs, such as vomiting, diarrhea and painful pancreatitis. The onions in potato pancakes also are harmful to dogs. So, make sure everyone knows that their new family member may eat only his puppy food.
When it’s time for bed—or any time you can’t supervise the puppy—invite him to rest inside his kennel. Be sure no gift wrappings or ribbons are close enough for him to pull them inside.
If all this sounds like more than your family can manage over the holiday, give your children a dog training book and a gift certificate to puppy kindergarten training, and bring your new pup home after Hanukkah.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.