Christmas day is a busy and exciting time for everyone who celebrates it, and whether you’re planning a quiet day in with the TV and some favourite seasonal foods or if you’re catering for a huge family and having a whole host of people over, Christmas tends to mean a big departure from the norm and a change from our normal routines.
This change in routine can affect dogs, and Christmas can actually be quite a hazardous time for dogs too, when you factor in the suspension of the normal routines, the addition of new and unusual things to the household, and the potential distraction of the average dog owner.
Additionally, many of us want to get our dogs as involved in Christmas as possible, often buying them presents and even special dog advent calendars, and generally planning to treat them fully like the much loved members of the family that they are, and ensure that they have a wonderful day too.
Treating your dog like a member of the family and involving them in Christmas is fine – as long as you respect the fact that your dog is still a dog, and that what is good for or safe for a human family member might not in turn be good or even safe for your dog!
This is something all dog owners should bear in mind around Christmas and particularly, on the day itself, when many of us are juggling several things, are very distracted, and are apt to let our usual vigilance and dog-related rules slip because it is a special day.
Every year, a huge range of dog owners who want to make sure their dog’s Christmas day is safe and enjoyable ask a number of often repeated questions of vets and of course, Google, to try to do the right thing and check their plans and what is and is not safe for their dogs before they go ahead and potentially make a mistake.
With this in mind, this article will share five of the most frequently asked questions posed by dog owners at Christmas, along with the correct answers to them, to help you to ensure that your dog’s Christmas is safe and enjoyable.
Read on to find out the answers to some of the most common questions about Christmas and dogs.
“Can the dog have Christmas pudding” or “is Christmas pudding safe for dogs” is one of the most common questions dog owners ask at Christmas, and a very good question it is too. Unfortunately, the answer is no; dogs should not eat Christmas pudding.
Christmas pudding isn’t something your dog should eat, because Christmas pudding, plum pudding or whatever else it’s called in your house is actually toxic to dogs, and might potentially make them very ill.
Whether or not this actually happens in practice will depend on a range of things including the size of the dog, how much Christmas pudding the dog ate, and exactly what was in the pudding; but a many of the ingredients of Christmas puddings are poisonous to dogs. These include of course raisins and sultanas, and if present, alcohol too.
What about the Christmas tree? Are Christmas trees safe for dogs? Well, artificial trees that are made of non-toxic materials, with no loose or small parts that might detach and that are properly secured to keep your dog from knocking them over are, but should still be supervised.
What you put on the tree, however, might not be. Tinsel, ribbons and other things like string on baubles can be hazardous to dogs if ingested, and of course, chocolate decorations are a problem too as they are toxic.
Are real Christmas trees safe for dogs? Can you have a natural Christmas tree with a dog? This is a bit more of a grey area. You need to be just as vigilant as you would with an artificial tree and decorations, but also bear in mind that pine needles are indigestible to dogs and mildly toxic too, plus they can be sharp and pierce a paw.
Unless you are sure you can fence off your tree or keep your dog away from it and any shed needles, you might be better off with an artificial tree, which still needs some care.
“Can my dog have a mince pie?” and “Are mince pies safe for dogs?” Are almost as commonly asked as the question about dogs eating Christmas pudding! The answer is no, for the same reason.
Mince pies are bad for dogs because once more they are packed with potential toxins like raisins and sultanas, and sometimes alcohol too.
Something else to be aware of is not to leave a plate of mince pies out for Santa in a room your dog can get into, or you might learn the hard way about what happens if a dog eats a mince pie!
“Can my dog eat Christmas dinner?” Or “can my dog have Christmas dinner scraps” is a bit of a grey area much as is the case with the tree question. First of all, changing your dog’s diet suddenly without good reason and also, feeding them something on top of their normal meals is generally not a good idea in itself.
Another thing to bear in mind is that many things that make up a Christmas dinner might be dangerous for your dog, and this is not always obvious. Gravy may have onion or garlic in it for a start, stuffing may contain the same and also potentially dried fruit, and there are all sorts of other secondary ingredients in otherwise innocuous-seeming components of the average Christmas dinner.
For this reason, you should never give your dog the Christmas dinner scraps, as this will be a mish-mash of all sorts of things, some of which you might not even be aware of.
But is it ok to give your dog their own Christmas dinner, made up of individual dog-safe things like some turkey and certain types of plain veg? Well a very strict answer to this would be that it is not ideal, due to the aforementioned reasons relating to a change of diet or adding extra to your dog’s meal for no reason. Christmas dinner is often fatty, salty and otherwise very rich, which can give your dog a digestive upset and ruin everyone’s Christmas!
That said, it is not the end of the world if you give your dog a small (please note the “small!”) portion of some of the lean meat, as long as this hasn’t been basted with or cooked with onion, garlic or anything else risky, along with a small portion of once more, plain, dog-safe vegetables.
On a related note, can dogs have turkey bones at Christmas? The answer to this is a hard no. Turkey bones, like chicken bones, are very risky for dogs. They are fine and delicate and sharp, all of which makes them hazardous for dogs, and cooking them makes them brittle too, which worsens the danger.
Feeding your dog turkey bones can result in them cutting or puncturing their mouth or worse, something internal. Don’t feed your dog turkey bones, and be sure they can’t get to the turkey carcass either!