Looking out for your dog at Christmas

Christmas is a time for fun, festivities and lots of food! As us humans start to get excited about the holiday season and time with our friends and family we should take a moment to consider any potential hazards that the festive season can present to your dogs. Here are a few that you should keep in mind, whether you are having Christmas at home or visiting friends!

Food Hazards

We all have a tendency to over indulge over the Christmas season and it is nice to be able to share a few of these with your dog, by all means a small amount of meat and vegetables shouldn’t cause them any harm but be careful that you don’t feed them any chicken or turkey bones, which can get stuck or splinter in the throat. Also avoid over feeding which might lead to digestive issues!

A number of foods that are in high human demand at Christmas are in fact dangerous to dogs, be sure that your dog does not get hold of the following and be sure to advise any guests that they must not allow your dog to ingest these:

  • Chocolate – contains a compound called theobromine, which is toxic to dogs
  • Onions and garlic – contains compounds that can damage dogs red blood cells
  • Holly Berries and Mistletoe – can result in vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Horse Chestnuts – can result in vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain
  • Raisins – Associated with the development of kidney failure
  • Grapes – Associated with the development of kidney failure
  • Alcohol – even ingesting a small amount can cause significant intoxication in dogs

People Hazards

Over the Christmas period you might be having a number of people over to visit and some of those might even be bringing their dogs with them, if your dog is not used to this then they might find it a little unsettling. Try to take the dog out for a nice walk an hour or so before visitors are due to arrive and on return leave your dog in a quiet room with their favourite toy to allow them to relax. As people begin to arrive then you can introduce the dog to them a little later.

Children can become over excited at the thought of Father Christmas coming to pay them a visit, emotions can be running high and become overwhelming for the dog. It is not a good idea to leave the dog and child unsupervised during these times as even the calmest of dogs might react through fear or self-defence.

Hazardous Objects

Christmas trees can cause all sorts of problems for the unsuspecting dog; all the hanging baubles and tinsel along with the presents under the tree can be too much of a temptation to some dogs, especially puppies. One pull at a bauble might cause the whole tree to fall over so it is wise to place a barrier in front of the tree to prevent access to the dog.

Be sure to tidy up as you unwrap all the presents. In the excitement of opening them you might not notice the dog chewing on the paper or worse, the new PlayStation! Always supervise the dog whilst presents are being opened and tidy as you go!

Candles should be placed on shelves where the dog’s tail cannot reach as you wouldn’t want the fire service being called!

Most importantly Christmas should be a day enjoyed by the whole family, remember that the dog will need the usual routine of walks and meals. It is also important to check the opening hours of local vets over the holidays and have their contact details to hand.

If you are visiting friends with your dog then be sure to take precautions as above as well as establishing boundaries with the family that you are visiting. Just because your dog gets pride of place on your sofa for the Queen’s speech does not mean that this will be OK in your friends or families house. Respect their rules and you might get an invite next year!


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