December 9th, 2020 by
With Christmas just around the corner we often overlook how our dogs may be feeling about the festivities! While we may be having a slightly different Christmas this year due to Covid-19, the majority of us will still be celebrating, and will still be full of excitement, eating too much and giving and receiving plenty of presents! For many dogs this can all be quite overwhelming, so here is our handy guide to keeping your dog safe and ensuring their happiness over the Christmas period.
Typically, the first thing we do to start getting festive is to put the tree up! Deciding on a real or an artificial tree, the tinsel, baubles, angel or star on the top, all of these new alien things we are bringing into our living room can often be overwhelming and confusing for our pooches. To try and help your dog to accept that this tree is not something to be fearful of, it can be helpful to allow your dog to watch as you bring the tree into the house and put it up. You could have your dog in the room with you but have them enjoying a tasty treat so the experience is positive!
Once your tree is up and decorated you may want to put some sort of fence or barrier around it if you think your pooch may try and pull the tree over, or maybe even cocking their leg and doing a little tinkle on the tree (this is surprisingly more common than you’d think!). Some people choose to place their tree high up on a table so it’s out of reach, or even only putting baubles on the top half of the tree so their dog can’t try and steal them!
If you have a real Christmas tree, you may need to ensure the water reservoir in the tree stand is covered up so your dog isn’t tempted to have a cheeky drink! When the tree drinks water it can release sometimes-toxic sap into the stand that smells nice to our four-legged friends – so it’s important they aren’t allowed to drink this. Many fresh trees also have pesticides and fertiliser water additives which can prove deadly to our dogs if consumed in large amounts, therefore it’s better to be safe than sorry by covering up your tree stand as much as possible!
You may have to figure out what works best for you and your pooch – but most dogs should be fine with your tree, if not slightly disgruntled that they aren’t allowed to bring a stick into the house but you’re bringing a whole tree in!
Leaving presents under the tree is not always a good idea when you have dogs. One of my dogs absolutely loves to rip the wrapping paper off presents and she would definitely open every single present if I were to put them under the tree! Presents that contain food, especially chocolates are, of course, the most important presents to keep away from your pups, as ingesting these could be toxic and could make your dog very poorly.
We love our Christmas dinner, and you may be tempted to give your dog a bowl full too. We need to remember though that some of our favourite festive foods aren’t suitable for dogs, and even the food that is should only be given in moderation so as not to upset your pooch’s tummy! The most common Christmassy foods that you should keep away from your dogs are; mince pies, onion gravy, Christmas pudding, grapes, raisins, chocolate, nuts and cooked bones. No matter how cute their puppy dog eyes are – feeding your dog any of these things will cause more harm than good and will more than likely result in an expensive trip to the vets!
We love to decorate our homes with bright lights for Christmas, on the tree, the fireplace, window ledges, but these can be a real threat to our dogs. The lights may look pretty to us, but some dogs might think they look like a tasty snack! Pets can die from electrocution or internal injuries caused by fairy lights, and string lights can also cause intestinal blockages which can also prove fatal. You should ensure all wires are well out of your pup’s reach and ensure lights are not left loose around the room. Try not to leave your dog alone in a room with fairy lights either – they are often tempted to be naughty when they think we aren’t watching!
Poinsettia, Mistletoe and Holly plants are possibly the most common plants we see being sold and given as gifts around the festive period – however, these plants should always be kept well away from our furry friends. Poinsettias contain a sap in its colourful leaves that can irritate your dog’s mouth and oesophagus and cause serious damage to it. The leaves of a poinsettia can also cause vomiting and nausea if ingested. Mistletoe and Holly are both very toxic and poisonous to dogs, with mistletoe containing more than one toxic substance – that can cause severe stomach ache, breathing problems, seizures, a drop in blood pressure and may even cause hallucinations. The extremely sharp leaves of holly may be enough to deter your dog from attempting to eat any, however, some dogs just can’t help themselves and may still be tempted – so you should always keep these plants well out of your dog’s reach, and take your dog straight to the vet if you suspect they have ingested any.
Create a safe space
If your dog is crate trained, this can be a brilliant tool to help your dog to have a stress-free Christmas. If your dog isn’t crate trained, you can always create a safe space or a den for them to retreat to if they feel overwhelmed and need to take a break. We often find there is a lot going on over Christmas, and often our dog can’t understand all of the coming and goings, so for our dogs to have somewhere quiet and safe away from everything can help them to relax and feel safe.
Most importantly – enjoy yourselves! Involving our dogs in our Christmas celebrations is becoming the new normal. We love to treat our dogs like they are another member of the family, so get them some presents, give them some extra special treats, take some festive photos – but be wise and ensure no harm can come to your beloved best friend, so you can enjoy many more Christmases together!
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