- Not really Christmas specific, more autumn/ winter advice, but if the weather is particularly cold or wet, ensure any older dogs or those with thin fur wear coats outdoors. Personally I'd have any dogs that live indoors wearing a coat if I have to put one on myself when heading outside. As they live in centrally heated houses just like us, their coats just aren't adapted for harsh winter weather - especially when we get an unexpected cold snap.
- If you have an open fire, always use a fire guard, and be aware of hot radiators.
- All of the following seasonal items are dangerous to your dog if eaten: chocolate, grapes, and raisins. Xylitol, a sweetner found in many sugar-free sweets, has also been found to be dangerous. Cooked turkey bones might become lodged in the dog’s throat or perforate the intestinal tract, and onions can cause anaemia so don’t feed them to your dog in any form. Always keep an eye on your dog and seek veterinary attention if necessary. Dogs Trust have an excellent poisonous substances section for information on other potential hazards.
- It's natural to want to share leftover food with our dogs especially at Christmas time, but if it's something they're not used to then it could lead to an upset stomach which isn't so festive! Oh and whilst it often raises a smile, you shouldn't give your dog alcohol to drink.
- Car anti-freeze is sweet tasting and irresistible, but fatal to dogs (and cats). Mop up any spills as even a small amount could kill.
- The Christmas tree is an intrinsic part of the festive season, but you might want to think about where you locate it. It makes sense not to put the tree in the window that your dog always looks out of because he will still try to look out of that window with the tree there, and it can fall over. To minimize that risk, you may want to tie the tree to a ceiling hook. Plus only decorating the higher branches and leaving the lower ones bare, and making sure all ornaments are firmly attached. Oh and change the water for the tree frequently - it can contain pine tar which is poisonous and if your dog drinks it, he can be in real trouble.
- Keep all decorations, ornaments, ribbons and wrapping paper out of your dog’s reach. If you use edible ornaments and decorations such as bread dough, popcorn, and chocolate coins etc. not only on your tree but also throughout your house, remember that they still are food to your dog, and the dough and paint you use on them can be toxic. Other ornaments such as angel hair and tinsel are also extremely dangerous if they are eaten, and they can also cause external cuts and scrapes especially to the mouth, eyes, and nose. If you put stockings on your mantle and fill them with food, your dog can still reach them. He’ll probably eat the stocking as well as the food. Don’t put gifts of food under the tree either for obvious reasons.
- Poinsettias and Amaryllis are popular at Christmas, but their red glow isn’t just appealing to humans; many dogs will find these plants irresistible too. It’s therefore important these plants are kept out of reach, as they are poisonous and can cause mouth or stomach irritation from just eating a small part of the plant. Mistletoe can also be dangerous; the berries, in particular, can be even more toxic than poinsettias. Read the Dogs Trust poisonous substances section for information on other potentially harmful plants.
- Supervise play with any new toys (dogs' or the children’s), in case parts break and are swallowed. Only buy toys that are specifically designed for a pet's use.
- Don’t leave anything sharp lying around, and it's wise not to use those wooden cocktail sticks for party food. Dogs have been known to swallow needles and knives!
- Even the best dog can be a bit of an opportunist when it comes to food being readily available, and the festive season holds lots of opportunities for the practiced thief! Making sure the kitchen door is closed so your dog avoids getting himself into trouble, and make sure the extra bin bags are safely inside dog-proof bins!
- Make sure everyone in the family knows about pet first aid, such as where the First Aid Kit is kept, and how to contact the vet.
- The Christmas holidays are such a busy time that every family member quite often ends up tired and stressed. If you can, try and stick to a regular routine for your dog/s - being fed, going out for walks, training & cuddles at a particular time.
- Perhaps consider using a dog walker during the festive season to help keep your dog in it's usual routine. Local Daybreak clients can benefit from our very own Daybreak dog walking services, with the lovely Clint Elliott to ease the pressure.
- We usually recommend using your dog's regular meals for training and feeding them in interactive toys such as Kongs as well as straight from their food bowls. During the festive season it's even more helpful to do this as will help mentally exercise your dog so that they can settle more comfortably with lots going on around them. How nice to be able to escape to a quiet room to eat rather than with all the noise and bustle of lots of visitors around?
- Make sure the front door is not left open by visitors as your dog may escape and get lost or run over! Playing some training games about not going out the front door without hearing their release word can be a useful back-up in case someone forgets to shut the door. And should the worst happen, does your dog have the correct ID tag on so that he can make it home? The law is your name and address on the tag, but telephone numbers can be useful too.
- If your dog is wary around people and you have strangers visiting the house, make sure you know where he is at all times and provide him with a quiet place to escape to if he wishes. Baby gates & crates are really useful at this time of year for this very reason.
- Scared dogs may bite if provoked, intentionally or not. Do ensure new faces including children know how to approach and behave around your dog. For children not familiar with interacting with dogs, you might want to go through the Kennel Club's Safe & Sound Scheme with them online.
- Try to keep the dog out of the kitchen when cooking. He could get under your feet and trip you when you’re carrying a hot pan. Be careful of ceramic/halogen hobs.
Finally we'd like to wish you a wonderful Christmas and good wishes for a prosperous new year, and leave you with this little video clip that is bound to get you into the festive spirit :)