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How to keep your dog safe on Christmas day
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How to keep your dog safe on Christmas day

Dogs
Health & Safety

Christmas day is right around the corner now and most households are well into the festive spirit, and particularly if you have children as well as a dog, there is likely a tangible sense of excitement in the air.

Taking care to keep your dog safe over the general Christmas period is of course really important, and most dog lovers are instinctively careful about what is introduced at Christmas and how it is managed, in order to avoid any potential mishaps that warrant a surprise trip to the vet.

However, Christmas day itself tends to see a spike in festive emergency vet visits, and it may come as a surprise to many dog owners, but Christmas day is actually one of the busiest days of the year in out-of-hours veterinary clinics and local clinics that provide their own out-of-hours coverage.

This is because even in homes that are decorated to the rafters and full of Christmas spirit, a whole host of new things are changed and added on the big day itself; and everyone is of course distracted and getting into the swing of things, and perhaps paying a little less attention than normal to the dog.

With this in mind, this article will tell you about some of the specific threats or issues that can occur on Christmas day itself that can pose a hazard to your dog’s health; but that if you’re aware about them in advance, they’re also really easy to avoid.

In this article, we’re only going to talk about a certain type of potential Christmas day dangers to dogs, and you’ll note that none of them are directly related to food; keeping dogs safe where Christmas day food is concerned is the topic for a whole article of its own, which we will also be sharing with you in time for the day itself, so keep a lookout for it!

Most homes already have their decorations up and plans for the festivities well underway, and some of you have probably had a few teething troubles already where the dog is concerned… Such as trying to stop them seeing that lovely real fir tree you spent so much cash on as an indoor toilet facility (best Christmas present ever!) or learning that a cooling tray of biscuits on the counter is well within the reach of a highly motivated dog!

However, even given the added challenges of the general season, Christmas day itself can be particularly hazardous for dogs; but keeping your dog safe on Christmas day doesn’t have to be difficult, if you know the main potential hazards to look out for.

Read on to find out what you need to bear in mind to keep your dog safe and well on Christmas day; and remember to check back for our partner article on dogs, Christmas day food and safety too before you head up the stairs to await Santa!

Be aware of what is in wrapped presents left under the tree

If you (sorry, Santa) will be leaving presents under the tree overnight, the best approach to take is to close your dog out of the room at all times when they’re not directly supervised.

Most of us will have presents from outside of the family that nobody present will know for sure what is within them until they get opened; but if there is chocolate, other foodstuffs, or even potentially gifts for your dog themselves in there somewhere, you can bet your dog can smell this from some distance off, and they might be tempted to rip things open and chow down.

This won’t only ruin your gifts, but may warrant a trip to the vets for your dog too.

Dogs might also rip apart even innocuous presents just for fun, and may potentially ingest wrapping materials if they do. Ensure the dog doesn’t ruin Christmas and their own health by safeguarding your presents!

Keep the dog out of the room or under close supervision when unwrapping presents

When it does come to unwrapping presents, it is fine to let your dog get involved if you want to – and are willing and able to supervise them closely. This means being able to ensure they don’t manage to steal and eat anything unexpected, or chew or eat packing materials.

If you’re not confident about this or if your dog is apt to be a pain, it may be safest to close them out of the room entirely until wrappings have been cleared away.

Don’t leave string and ribbons lying around

If any gifts that come with strings or ribbons in particular, these can be easy to miss them when it comes to picking up wrappings. Keep a note if you spot string or ribbons on wrapping paper, and pick them up and tidy them away safely to ensure your dog doesn’t decide to chew and swallow them!

Remember that mistletoe and other plants from your table centre piece can be toxic to dogs

Mistletoe is toxic, and certain other festive plants can be too; few dogs would deliberately eat them for the sake of it as toxic plants tend to have a bitter taste, but this is not always the case, and some dogs like to chew first and regret later!

Take care over things like mistletoe in doorways falling or dropping berries, and what might be in your special centrepiece or other plants brought in for the day in terms of your dog’s safety.

Candles, flaming puddings and other naked flames all require supervision

Open flames of any type, such as Christmas candles and centrepieces of flaming puddings should all be properly supervised at all times when your dog is involved. Dogs can easily singe themselves on candles, and may even knock them over and cause a much larger problem.

Setting fire to a pudding is likely to happen out of your dog’s reach, but if they are nearby then the sudden flame sound, flare and smell might cause them to startle and panic, which may trigger a fight or flight response that could be potentially dangerous.

Don’t give your dog alcohol of any kind, or let them get to discarded glasses

Dogs and alcohol do not mix; even a couple of sips of a sweet spirit or liquor might make them violently ill, and it does not take much alcohol at all to introduce acute alcohol poisoning in a dog.

Don’t give your dog alcohol, and don’t leave alcoholic drinks on low tables or within their reach, particularly if they’re sweet smelling or flavoured.

Remember to meet your dog’s normal needs

Your dog still needs to have all of their normal needs tended to on Christmas, so don’t forget their walks, toilet breaks, meals and normal attention in the excitement of things!

Be alert to potential symptoms that something is wrong with your dog

Finally, even if you are highly vigilant, Christmas day and a dog involves a lot of variables and moving parts, and some dogs are excellent at getting themselves into hot water or doing something dangerous in the five seconds your back might be turned!

This means it is important to keep a special eye out for any signs that something might be amiss with your dog, even if you don’t think they could possibly have done or eaten anything stupid, just in case.

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