During the Christmas period we need to make sure that our dogs are able to cope with the festivities and that they stay healthy and happy.
Decorations and presents
Keep holiday goodies away from your dog and also take care with tinsel and other decorations, which can look like toys but can shatter if chewed or cause an obstruction if swallowed. Watch for trailing cables on tree lights. Don’t have them trailing across the corner of the room or swinging about where dogs can chew or pull them.
All candles and naked flames should be placed well out of the way of wagging tails. If you have decorated your home with berries and mistletoe, make sure these decorations are also well out of your dogs reach.
Take care with presents under the tree. If someone has given you a gift of chocolates, your dog will find this out much quicker than you will. Remember, not only will the present be ruined but Chocolate is Poisonous to Dogs.
Don’t forget Fido
In all the excitement of Christmas, don’t forget your dog. They will need the same amount of love, attention, grooming, walks and general care as they usually do. And don’t forget that pets are a great way for humans to de-stress, so stroking the dog has benefits for both of you.
Many of us eat more than usual at Christmas and sit around a centrally heated house. But remember to take your dog for their usual walks. Enjoy the fresh air and time together. If you have visitors, why not ask them to come too. Everyone will come home rosy cheeked and refreshed.
A dog is for life
Remember the Dogs Trust mantra "A dog is for life, not just for Christmas". Never give a pet for Christmas, ever. Similarly, it is not a good idea to bring home a new family pet during the holiday season either. It is tempting to get a new pet during the holidays when everyone is home but bear in mind that Christmas is a hectic and noisy time of year, with lots of loud bangs from Xmas Crackers and lots of strangers going in and out of the house. This would not be an ideal time for any dog to settle stress-free into a new home.
Christmas can be stressful
We all know that Christmas can sometimes be stressful for us but did you know that it can also be stressful for our pets. Even well established pets can find the Christmas period hectic and daunting. Older dogs can be particularly affected. Make sure your dog has a nice quiet place they can go, with a comfy bed and plenty of peace and quiet available to them whenever they need it.
If your dog is not used to children, take care if younger family members are visiting over the festive season. Older dogs especially can find young children hard to tolerate. Make sure any visiting children are told how to handle a dog and make sure they always show your dog respect. Do not leave children alone with a dog, any dog, at any time.
Gifts and treats
It can be fun to buy your pet extra special gifts and treats at Christmas but take care with your choices. Choose quality toys and treats that are made especially for pets. Also, don’t feed your dog too many treats, especially ones that are high in colourings or flavourings. This overload could make your dog hyperactive and also cause upset tummies. Take care that your dog is not overfed with too many tit bits. If you have house guests over the festive season, make sure they don’t slip your pooch too many treats.
If you are feeding your dog a special Christmas meal, bear in mind that what is good for us might not suit your dog. Steer clear of rich foods, sauces and gravy. A little white meat and vegetables will make your dog much happier.
Don’t forget less fortunate dogs this Christmas. Extra donations to charities at this time of year are always welcome. Alternatively, ask your local rescue centre if they would like any extra blankets, clothing or toys for the dogs. Some charities would also be grateful for any unwanted gifts that they can raffle off later in the year. Or why not do some of your Christmas shopping via a dog charity website. Visit Help Dog Charities at Christmas.