Christmas is a wonderful time of year. We get to spend quality time with family, share delicious food and gifts and make special memories. All dog lovers agree that the festive season is even more magical with a four-legged friend, as they simply love to join in the family fun and experience all the sights and smells.
The downside is that this time of year presents lots of unexpected dangers for dogs, with some finding the festive activities and increase in visitors a little overwhelming. A distressed or poorly dog is the last thing we want at Christmastime, so we must take steps to keep our furry pals happy and healthy.
We’ve put together this handy guide with ten great tips to help you keep your dog safe this Christmas, so you can both get lots of enjoyment out of this special time together.
1. Maintain your dog’s usual routine
Christmas is an exciting time for dogs, if a little overwhelming. With so many visitors coming and going, tasty treats, rich aromas and lots of loud noises, the festivities can be a lot for a dog to take in!
Dogs are creatures of habit, so to prevent your pup from becoming completely overwhelmed with all the unusual goings-on, it is best to maintain their usual routine. We know it is hard, since Christmas is a time when all sense of ‘normality’ goes out of the window, but your canine friend simply thrives on routine. Feed them and walk them at the usual time each day, and your dog will cope much better with all the festivities.
2. A quiet area for when the excitement gets too much
The Christmas commotion is a far cry from the long months of social distancing and lockdowns we’ve experienced this year, so the festivities will be a lot for your pup to cope with. At first, they’ll be desperate to join in the fun, but after all the exhaustion, a sleepy dog just needs somewhere quiet to get a bit of shut-eye.
To help your dog feel safe and comfortable this Christmas, make sure they have a cosy, comfy area to rest in when the excitement gets too much. Set up your dog’s bed in a quiet corner of the house, and place some of their favourite toys inside.
3. Remember your pup is sensitive to loud noises
Dogs have very sensitive hearing, so if you plan on popping the champagne and pulling Christmas crackers, make sure your pup is in a quiet spot away from the noise. Other sources of loud noise over the festive period are fireworks and party poppers.
4. Keep your dog away from the Christmas tree
Christmas may be a time for rockin’ around the tree, but dogs and Christmas trees are an accident waiting to happen!
Just take a minute to imagine how your tree looks to your dog. Not only have you brought the outside inside, but you’ve decorated it with trailing tinsel that begs to be pulled, mesmerising lights that need to be chewed, and shiny baubles that look very much like the things your dog likes to run around and catch at the park!
Pine needles themselves can pose a threat to your pup, as they could get stuck in their throat or paws. To keep your dog safe at Christmas, particularly if you have a puppy, you should choose a fake tree over a real one. Try to keep your dog away from the tree, and if they do go near it, make sure you’re keeping a watchful eye.
5. Keep your furry friend away from festive plants
To keep your dog safe at Christmas, it’s not just your tree that you need to be wary of; there are other festive plants that also pose a threat to your furry friend.
If your dog ingests the following plants, it could cause an upset stomach:
- holly berries
6. Keep an eye on dogs and children
This rule doesn’t only apply at Christmastime; you should always keep an eye on dogs with children. However, at this time of year, you may have relatives or friends visiting with young children who may not know how to behave around dogs, and your pup may be a little confused about them too!
Encourage children to be calm around your dog and warn them not to disturb a pup that is resting or eating. Children can become very active and excited at Christmas, and this can be overwhelming for your pup, so it’s important that they have a quiet space to rest.
Remember, never leave children and dogs together unsupervised.
7. Watch out for wrapping paper
Wrapping paper is another item on the long list of Christmas dangers for dogs, and in the excitement of Christmas morning, it can be easy to leave paper lying around for your dog to chew on. There are usually gift tags, ribbons and pieces of sellotape in amongst the present unwrapping debris which can also harm your dog if ingested. It’s a good idea to clear up any rubbish as you go, instead of leaving it for later.
8. Keep these festive foods out of reach
Perhaps the most serious Christmas danger for dogs is food, so it’s important to be aware of which festive treats might make your dog ill.
Remember, your pup might have their eye on that plate of tasty looking mince pies, but unbeknown to them, the ingredients could make them very sick indeed.
To keep your dog safe this Christmas, it’s your responsibility to keep non-dog-friendly festive foods hidden away. Most dogs are quite happy to eat anything within easy reach, even foods that could harm them.
Take a look at the list below and familiarise yourself with the festive foods that make dogs sick.
- chocolate (dark chocolate is particularly toxic)
- grapes (including dried grapes such as raisins and sultanas) – remember grapes are found in mince pies, Christmas pudding and wine
- onions, leeks, chives and garlic
- macadamia nuts
- xylitol (sugar-free sweetener)
If you are expecting visitors over the festive period, remember that not everyone knows which foods are dangerous to dogs. Show your guests, including children, the list above to avoid any unwanted trips to the vet.
Did you know there is a 24-hour specialised emergency telephone service in the UK dedicated to helping pet owners who are worried their pet may have been exposed to something harmful or poisonous. For more information, click here.
9. Don’t let your dog overindulge
We all love to overindulge at Christmas; there’s no better feeling than saying “yes please!” to a third helping of pudding. With all those delicious treats lying around, your dog will likely adopt their best pleading gaze (yes, those cute ‘puppy dog eyes’ that you can’t resist), tempting you to feed it more than usual.
It’s tough saying no to your beloved four-legged friend – after all, Christmas is a time for giving – but remember, overfeeding your dog could give them an upset stomach.
To keep your dog safe this Christmas and prevent them from overindulging, you should also ask your guests to refrain from feeding your pup themselves. That’s right, that means you need to keep an eye on Grandma who likes to feed Larry the Labrador tidbits under the table!
10. Going away at Christmas? Plan for your pup!
If you are going away this Christmas to visit friends or family, you need to make plans for your canine companion.
If you’re taking your pup along with you, remember to take their bed and some of their favourite toys to provide a bit of familiarity and comfort. If you can’t take your dog with you, try not to leave them alone for too long as they may find it very distressing.
There are thousands of abandoned dogs around the UK that are without a loving family this Christmas, and so it’s up to the incredible staff and volunteers at dog rescue centres to bring them a little festive joy.
With more dogs being abandoned and charity funds dwindling, dog rescue centres have faced a particularly tough year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s why it has never been more important to support dog rescue centres who work tirelessly to give abandoned pups the loving life they deserve.
2020 has been hard on all of us and at this time of year, family comes first. But by playing our charity dog lottery for as little as £1.50 per week, you could show dog rescue centres around the UK much-needed support and be in with the chance of winning a cash prize for you to enjoy.
From everyone at DoggyLottery, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!