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Dogs & Christmas

Christmas is a very exciting time of year. However, it can be a very confusing time for the canine members of our family.  Us humans tend to do strange things at Christmas – get very excited, make more noise, have lots of people round, drink more alcohol, change the way the house looks with decorations, bring lots of interesting packages and smells into the home and have different foods around.

Probably the most disturbing thing to our dogs it that often we get very stressed.  Dogs pick up on our stress and it wobbles them too.  Their usually stable and reliable Pack members are giving off weird signs and signals which dogs can interpret that something is wrong.

If you have a very chilled-out dog then this may go over their heads and they may take Christmas in their stride.  If you have a more sensitive or nervous dog they may find our celebrations a bit too much to handle.  So we can all have a happy, healthy and relaxed Christmas here are a few tips to help your canine chum enjoy it too.

Food – Wow, what a lot of food we consume at this time of year.   Dogs are scavengers by nature so if you don’t want the turkey ending up in the dog before Christmas Day then be careful to put food out of reach, in containers with lids and if necessary in another room.

Poisonous foods – many of our Christmas goodies are actually poisonous to dogs.  Again keep them out of reach and this includes foodie presents under the tree, boxes of chocs laid around and no feeding titbits from the dinner table!  These foods should NOT be given to dogs or you may end up at the vets on Christmas night instead of in front of the TV or playing Monopoly.

  • Chocolate,  Alcohol, Raisins, Grapes, Macadamia nuts & Peanuts, Garlic & Onions, Mince Pies, Cooked Bones, Sugar, Christmas Pudding & Cake, Mushrooms, Peach & Nectarine stones.

Christmas Tree – We cover our homes with interesting sparkly things and put a tree in the lounge!  “What’s that all about?” our dogs think.  Some dogs may see the decorations as new toys to play with, or something to eat or male dogs could even see it as a new place to have a wee against.  This is where a good tight recall is so vital.  If you see your dog being too interested in the tree call them away, in a happy voice, reward with praise and remove to another room.  If your dog keeps going back to the tree have a long line on them and if they don’t come first call, remove silently and put them in another room on their own for 30 seconds for time out.  If your dog is persistently worrying the tree maybe consider having the tree in a different room, away from everyday living or on a table where the dog can’t reach it. 

Decorations & Baubles – if your dog does get hold of a plastic or glass bauble and eats it here is something that can help whilst you get your dog to the emergency vet.  Soak white bread in milk or gravy and feed it to your dog.  This will be soft and pulpy in its stomach so anything sharp or hard will stick to this.  It can help ensure that whatever has been eaten has a safer transit through your dog’s digestive system.  Do get your dog to the vet as well as this can be very dangerous.

Presents – Dogs love presents too and many people include them in the present giving.  There are lots of lovely ideas in pet shops.  Our dogs may not realise they aren’t allowed to open them until Christmas Day so hide them away where they can’t get to them.  Also, be aware that a pile of presents under the tree and an unsupervised dog may be a recipe for a lot of ripped paper and revealed gifts long before Father Christmas has been.

Children – Children love Christmas probably best of all and get very excited.  This can be a bit too much for some dogs who find their excitement overwhelming.  Having lots of people in the house can be stressful too.  Have a den set up for your dog away from the busy thoroughfare of comings and goings.  Make it a house rule that when your dog is in its den or on its bed then nobody goes up to it.  We all need a bit of space and peace and quiet.  This can be a great place for your dog to rest when you are eating or things are getting especially hectic. 

Following these few hints will help ensure everyone has a wonderful Christmas holiday.

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