How to keep your dog safe and happy this Christmas
Posted by Matt Sadler
The most wonderful time of the year is upon us! We asked our Canine Healthcare Advisors for their top tips and tricks for keeping your four-legged friends happy, healthy and safe this Christmas.
Make it stress-free
Christmas is a time for socialising and catching up with family and friends. Whilst we might enjoy seeing lots of old faces, it’s important to be mindful that groups of visitors can be overwhelming for dogs. Make sure you have a safe space for them to eat and rest without being disturbed. You can also help them feel comforted with their favourite toy.
We all experience changes to our normal routines over Christmas and this can be unsettling for dogs. Where possible, try to stick to their usual routine to minimise stress, making sure they eat and go to sleep at the same time.
Top tip: Sleeping, chewing and sniffing are all great ways to help dogs chill out and relax – Christmas can be tiring for them too!
Eat, drink, and be merry
Although many festive treats are delicious to us, they can be poisonous to dogs and should be kept out of paws reach. Festive foods that are off the menu for dogs include:
- Chocolate and sweets
- Raisins (keep an eye on those mince pies!)
Also, make sure any extra festive dog treats stay within their daily food allowance!
Top tip: Don’t give your dog leftovers from Christmas dinner, as they could include hidden ingredients that might make them ill or unwell.
If you think your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t, contact your vet/Healthcare Advisor immediately
Dog-proof your decorations
Christmas is a great excuse to get dressed up. Whilst we might enjoy a reindeer headband or a jingly jumper, please keep the costumes for humans only. Wearing costumes, jumpers and headwear can be stressful for dogs and can cause them to overheat. Why not opt for a festive photo of them under the Christmas tree instead?
When it comes to decorating your tree, it’s important to keep baubles and tinsel out of the reach of paws (and enthusiastic tails) to avoid your dog knocking them off or eating them. The same goes for fairy light cables; keep them tucked away to keep your dog safe.
Has Santa left some chocolates or biscuits under the tree? Christmas presents under the tree can be too tempting for our four-legged friends – especially if the gift is edible.
If you suspect there is anything edible or dangerous, or aren’t sure of the contents of a gift, it’s best to keep the present out of reach.
The weather can be unpredictable at this time of year. Take caution when walking in icy conditions - it’s OK to miss a walk! If you do wander out for an icy adventure, consider keeping your dog on their lead as visibility can be poor and you’ll want to keep a closer eye on them in poor conditions.
When you get home, make sure to dry them off and keep them warm and hydrated with plenty of water. Remember to check their paws regularly for mud and knots!
Top tip: Grit and salt can irritate paws so make sure to wipe them with warm water after a walk.
New Year’s Celebrations
Fireworks are inevitable on New Year’s Eve. Prepare dogs early by playing similar sounds to them on a low volume whilst they enjoy a fun activity. On the day, make sure walks are done by dusk and consider making a safe, cosy place for your dog at home. They may want to settle next to you for support. Remember, it’s ok to comfort your dog if they’re frightened.
Top tip: Distractions can work wonders. Playing retrieve or practising tricks with tasty treats, toys and verbal praise can help to distract your dog from the commotion outside.
We hope you and your dogs all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
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