Christmas should be a fun time for all the family – including your dog! Festive food, activities, and decorations can be dangerous for your canine friend though. Many dogs also find the excitement of Christmas to be overwhelming or stressful.
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To ensure the whole family enjoys the festive period, here are six tips for keeping your dog happy and safe this Christmas.
1. Beware the Christmas Tree
A Christmas tree might seem like a harmless addition to your home, but it’s full of potential hazards for dogs.
An obvious risk is that your dog could pull or knock over the tree. A decoration-laden tree can be heavy, so this can cause serious injury to the dog or nearby people.
The decorations themselves can also be dangerous. Edible chocolate decorations are poisonous to dogs, so make sure they are always out of reach. Small and delicate ornaments could also be a choking hazard for your pet.
Some real Christmas trees release poisonous sap into the water reservoir. Prevent your dog drinking this water by covering the stand with foil.
2. Keep Your Dog Away from Poisonous Foods
The average Christmas roast dinner contains a variety of foods that are toxic to dogs. Onions and leeks, for example, can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and even anaemia. Many desserts are also dangerous, especially those with chocolate, raisins, and the artificial sweetener xylitol.
It’s best to keep your dog in a different room during dinner. You never know when someone might be tempted to feed him under the table!
The good news is that there are plenty of Christmas foods that are safe to give a dog in small quantities. Examples include:
Vegetables such as peas, green beans, parsnips, and carrots
Turkey meat without the bones or skin
Of course, your dog should never eat or drink anything containing alcohol.
3. Protect Your Dog’s Paws
Cold winter weather can cause serious problems for paw pads. Low humidity and heated homes dry out your dog’s paws, leaving them cracked and sore. Rock salt, which is spread on roads to prevent ice, can also tear or burn a dog’s paws.
The best way to protect feet is with dog boots. These stop ice building up between the toes and protect against rock salt or rough terrain. Many dogs hate wearing boots, but with counter-conditioning and desensitization training you can often teach your pet to tolerate them.
An alternative to boots is a protective paw wax. These can moisturize and protect – although they aren’t as effective as dog shoes.
4. Presents and Wrapping Paper Are Dangerous for Your Dog
Both gift items and wrapping paper can be dangerous for a dog.
Wrapping paper, if eaten in large quantities, can cause an obstruction in your dog’s gut. Be careful if there are lots of people unwrapping presents, as it’s easy to overlook your dog gobbling down some torn wrapping paper.
Also, remember that dogs have an incredible sense of smell. They can easily sniff out a chocolate gift through wrapping paper – and many won’t hesitate to “unwrap” it. This could lead to a dog consuming large amounts of chocolate or sweets, with potentially serious consequences. Keep all edible or dangerous presents in a cupboard, rather than under the tree.
5. Create a Safe Zone for Your Dog
Most dogs love spending time with humans, but they also need time to relax. This is especially important during loud festivities, or if you have guests visiting.
To help your dog feel relaxed and secure, create a comfortable safe space for it in a quiet part of the house. Make sure all guests know not to disturb your pet when it’s relaxing or sleeping – especially children.
Keep in mind that some dogs are reluctant to be away from the fun, even if they need a break. If you notice signs of stress, it might be a good idea for it to spend time in a quieter place.
6. Watch Out for Mistletoe and Holly
Aside from the Christmas tree, mistletoe and holly are probably the two plants most associated with the festive season. Unfortunately, both are poisonous if eaten by dogs!
It’s best to use artificial versions to be completely safe. But if you plan to decorate with the real thing, make sure the plants are placed out of reach and can’t fall to the floor.
Unfortunately, ivy and poinsettia are also poisonous to dogs.
There’s no reason why dogs can’t enjoy Christmas, but it’s important to take precautions.
Many festive items are dangerous to dogs, including holly, mistletoe, wrapping paper and chocolate. It can be easy to overlook these hazards during the fun.
Aside from dangerous objects, always watch your dog for signs of stress. It’s common for dogs to find the noise, excitement and busyness of the Christmas period very stressful.
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