Christmas should be a fun time for the whole family, including our four-legged friends. However the festive period can actually be quite the opposite for our canine companions.
Dogs are animals that thrive on routine and any sudden changes in their day to day routine can cause a great deal of stress. The festive period can bring around drastic changes in routine, leaving your dog feeling anything but merry and bright. It is important to stick to your dog’s usual feeding and walking schedule to keep stress levels at a minimum, so keep this in mind when planning any festive activities.
Vet bills are expensive, even more so at Christmas time so it is important to avoid preventable accidents in the house. Keep all tinsel, baubles and lights out of your dog’s reach and opt for unbreakable tree decorations - cut paw pads are one of the most common reasons for vet visits at this time of year!
Although not toxic to dogs, pine needles can cause gastrointestinal upset if consumed. Pine needles that drop off trees can also get stuck in your dogs paws, this can be very painful. If using a pine Christmas tree choose a non-drop variety and ensure your dog is supervised at all times to avoid accidental ingestion of pine leaves or opt for an artificial tree instead. After all no-one wants to spend their Christmas cleaning up sick!
On the topic of plants, there are some festive plants that are actually toxic to dogs and should be avoided. These plants include holly, mistletoe, ivy, potpourri and poinsettia
It is also a good idea to keep all Christmas presents out of reach particularly if you have a curious dog. Wrapping paper and it’s contents can easily cause an intestinal blockage that may require extensive surgery to resolve.
Foods you should not feed your dog
We agree that all dogs deserve to be treated and many owners like their dog to be included in their Christmas dinner celebrations but it is important that owners are aware of potentially toxic treats and avoid giving these to their dogs:
- Cooked bones
- Alliums (onions, garlic)
- Christmas pudding
If treating your dog this Christmas, it is best to do so in moderation and remember that sudden dietary changes can cause digestive upset. A small amount of plain turkey and cooked carrot, parsnip and Brussels sprouts (minus the sauce and gravy, of course!) is the perfect Christmas treat for your dog.
Your dog can quite easily become overwhelmed and may need some time alone to escape from the festivities. We recommend providing them with their own ‘safe space’ - a quiet den they can retreat to for some peace and quiet if the stress of Christmas gets a little bit too much.
Symptoms of a stressed dog
It is also important to remind any guests, particularly children, about the importance of giving dogs space. A dog that is stressed is more likely to behave in a negative or reactive manner. Therefore, it is important to be aware of indicators that your dog is stressed. Some of the most common signs of stress in dogs include:
- Panting excessively
- Putting their tail between their legs
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive barking
Being aware of how our dogs are feeling is important and taking measures to keep stress levels and risk of injury to a minimum allows for Christmas to be fun and relaxing for the whole family.