Christmas is my very favourite time of year – I love the decorations, the clear cold days (when it isn’t torrentially raining), shopping, visiting and everything that goes along with it. When getting ready for Christmas it’s easy to forget to take your dog’s needs into account while you’re busy preparing. Here are a few things to watch out for during the holiday’s and some tips for enjoying them with your dog.
1) Be Aware of Dangerous and Toxic Foods for Dogs
When you’re preparing holiday meals and snacks keep in mind that all of those good smells are very tempting for a dog. Everyone seems to have a story about their friend, neighbour or relative’s dog who stole the turkey right off the table. Make sure you keep food out of reach and make sure toxic foods are put away.
- Artificial sweeteners
- Bones (especially cooked)
- Blue cheese
- Chocolate (especially dark chocolate)
- Christmas pudding and minced pie
- Macadamia nuts
- Mouldy foods
- Rich fatty foods
There are many other human foods that are toxic for dogs so make sure you educate yourself and keep food at a safe distance.
What Should you do if Your Dog DOES Ingest a Harmful Food?
Don’t panic. If your dog does get into the Thanksgiving leftovers and you aren’t sure how serious it is you can call the Animal Poison Control Hotline.
Based in North America, this 24/7 hotline will ask you questions about your pet and the foods that they ate and determine if they can be monitored from home or if they require veterinary care. If they do require medical attention they will work with your Vet to ensure the best possible treatment. Note: there is a charge for the call.
Related articles: Holiday Events You Can Do With Your Dog (2019)
2) Watch out for Dangerous Decorations and Other Things
Shiny fancy decorations, ribbons and bows are as tempting to dogs as they are to children. Keep in mind that to a dog, a Christmas ball ornament looks suspiciously like a dog toy hanging on the tree and the temptation to play with it may be overwhelming. Since many Christmas balls are made of glass this could cause serious damage to a dog if they were to bite and break it.
Tinsel and ribbons are other danger zones. If consumed they can get clogged in a dogs intestines and require surgery to be removed. Keep your pooch in mind, and an eye on them as they get used to the new décor, and keep dangerous items out of reach.
Here are some other hazards your dog may chew or swallow at Christmas:
- Edible ornaments
- Salt dough decorations
- Popcorn strings
- Cranberry strings
- Silica gel packets
- Wrapping paper
Oh, and if you’re in the habit of putting gifts under the tree before the big day, you’d better make sure they don’t contain any chocolate, candy, food or anything else they can sniff out and get into when you’re not looking. It’s best to ask your loved ones to keep them out of harms way until it’s time to open them.
3) Don’t Forget Exercise
With all of the parties, shopping, food preparation and other events that go along with the season it can be easy to neglect your dogs exercise. Remember the golden rule: a well exercised dog is a happy and well behaved dog. Make sure you make time in your day to keep up with your dogs exercise routine. Your dog will be happier and less likely to get into mischief if you do.
4) Give Your Dog a Quiet Place to Retreat
Holidays mean visitors, deliveries and other activities that may overwhelm your dog. Help your dog cope with all of the extra activity by making sure that they have a quiet space to call their own. If your dog is crate trained make sure you have their crate out and accessible so that they can take shelter there for a little quiet time. If you do not use a crate then designating a room or area as a “quiet zone” by putting your dogs bed and perhaps a few familiar toys in it will ensure that your dog has a place of their own.
If your dog does decide to have a little alone time let them be. Do not disturb them, call them out to meet new guests or let children play with them. Once your dog has a chance to rest and recharge their batteries they will be ready to socialize again.
5) Spend Quality Time with your Dog
When everyone is busy and otherwise occupied don’t forget to spend some quality time with your dog – playing a favourite game, going for a walk or just having a snuggle. Your dog needs your attention just as much at Christmas time as he does the rest of the year.
Find activities for your family that your dog can join in on! Look for some new walks or hikes, consider taking the whole family and your pooch on a dog-friendly snowshoe trail, look for dog related events in your town and have some fun! For example, lots of businesses will offer dog photo’s with Santa or holiday backdrops where you can take pictures with the whole family.
If you remember to consider your dogs needs as you prepare for the Holiday season everyone is sure to have a good time.