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Christmas And Your Dog

As the festive season approaches, you may have considered getting your dog a little something special for their Christmas dinner, and perhaps a new bed, toy or something to play with so that they can join in with the rest of the family in the festivities. Lots of families really look forwards to Christmas, and there’s no reason why your dog shouldn’t be a part of the celebrations too. However, any veterinary practice that runs a 24 service or specialist inpatient care clinic can tell you that Christmas can be a potentially risky time for pets such as dogs. A range of new and unusual foodstuffs in the house, lots of toys, papers and ornaments lying about, and often, the attention of their humans being in lots of different places at once can increase the chances of your dog getting into something that they shouldn’t, or causing themselves harm. With this in mind, here are a few hints and tips to help to keep your dog safe and happy over the festive season.

Try to keep to your dog’s normal routine

With large meals at irregular times, presents to be opened and often visitors coming and going over the festive season, it’s all too easy for your normal household routine to be thrown off kilter. Routine is important for dogs, and offers them stability and comfort in their world. Try to ensure that your dog’s routine is not disrupted any more than is absolutely necessary during the festive season- feed their meals at the usual times, make sure that their walks are not neglected, and don’t get into bad habits with their training and behaviour which will be confusing for your dog and hard to break later on.

Beware of new household hazards

Many of us like to decorate the house at Christmas, with a tree, tinsel, baubles and other sparkly shiny things. Your dog will probably very much enjoy being involved in all of this, but do be aware that introducing a host of new items into the house may be potentially hazardous for your dog. Keep baubles, chocolate charms, festive plants and other items that your dog might eat or chew up out of his reach. This may mean that the lower part of your tree looks rather bare, or that you have to put your tree on a high stand in order to achieve it, but better this than a rushed and costly trip to the emergency veterinary clinic because your dog has ingested something that he shouldn’t!

Don’t feed your dog a plethora of treats, exotic foods and human meals

Christmas is synonymous with a wide range of delicious foods that many people enjoy, and given half a chance, most dogs will want to get in on the act too. It’s ok to give your dog a small piece of your Christmas turkey or other meat (although preferably not at the table)! But that should be the limit of it. A great many foodstuffs that humans enjoy at Christmas, such as chocolate, nuts and many other treats are potentially poisonous to your dog, so do not be tempted to give your dog a little bit of everything that you are having, or to encourage your dog to beg for treats. Similarly, even human foods that are not outright poisonous or toxic to your dog were not designed to be fed to canines; they do not fulfil their nutritional requirements, are high in calories, and can make your dog sick. Continue to feed your dog his normal complete meals; even if you are given the full force of those appealing puppy dog eyes! Your dog cannot make informed choices about what is good for him and what is harmful- you have to do this for him.

Don’t let visitors stress your dog out

If you’re having friends or family over for Christmas dinner or are expecting a lot of visitors to be passing through, don’t forget about the impact that this might have on your dog’s routine and general happiness. Many dogs love visitors, play and making new friends, but even the most outgoing dog will need a place to retreat to for a time out now and then, so ensure he has a safe corner or room where he can rest and not be disturbed if he wishes to use it. If some of your visitors will be children, make sure that they understand how to treat your dog, that your dog is not scared or bullied, and that the children understand your dog’s warning signals and know when to leave him alone. Never leave strange children unsupervised around your dog, for the protection of both parties.

Let your dog enjoy Christmas too

Finally, totally optional, but it can be a nice touch to buy your dog a little treat for his Christmas gift, and perhaps something special for his Christmas dinner, but don’t go overboard! Don’t allow your dog to ‘unwrap’ his new present himself, as he might potentially chew or eat the wrapping! Also keep an eye on your dog and what he’s got in his mouth while others are unwrapping their presents, to make sure he’s not making off with something he shouldn’t have, or eating packaging and unsuitable materials. Happy holidays!


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