Well, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. But along with all the fun and festivities, this time of year can be stressful for our four-legged friends. There are hidden dangers too – so check out our tips to keep them safe.
Baubles, tinsel and dazzling decorations hanging from your tree can be irresistible playthings for your dog. So watch out for anything that’s within mouth and paw reach. Dogs eat tinsel like we eat spaghetti. It can cause blockages or worse. Opt for shatterproof baubles to avoid smashed shards being ingested or cutting paws. Dangling fairy lights are tempting chew treats so don’t hang them on lower boughs. It’s also worth remembering that the oils in fir trees can be mildly toxic, causing stomach upsets and the needles can get stuck in your pet’s paw or throat. So regularly sweep up needles and close the door of the room when you go out.
Clear up wrapping paper
After the presents have been opened don’t give your dog a dodgy gift of the paper. If chewed, wrapping paper and ribbons can prove dangerous for your dog’s intestines. Silica gel that’s often found in packaging is usually non-toxic but can cause blockages in the gut so dispose of this carefully too.
Getting into the party swing? Before your guests arrive, try and get your dog out for a walk. It will help de-stress him or her and will likely ensure that he’ll put his head down for a nap when the festivities start. If things are getting really noisy, it’s a good idea to give your pet a safe room to escape the commotion – put his doggie bed and fresh water there. You could also turn on the TV or play calming music to mask the volume of the celebrations. He’ll let you know when he’s ready to join in the fun.
Poinsettia, mistletoe, holly berries and ivy are traditional Christmas favourites. They are all mildly toxic and can cause vomiting, drooling and diarrhoea so keep them well out of reach. Lilies and daffodils can cause convulsions when eaten in large quantities so be careful where you put them. Potpourri can also cause significant gastrointestinal effect in dogs. This can last several days after being eaten even after the material has passed through.
As you’ll be well aware, dogs have the most amazing hearing. The sound of party poppers and crackers can really upset and alarm them. So can the noise of Christmas and New Year’s fireworks. If a bottle of bubbly or wine is about to be popped, keep your dog out of sound’s way. Your dog will be less stressed if there’s a secure and safe place to go to. Make sure that your pet can easily see you for additional reassurance and give him his dog blanket and toys as well as some tasty treats.
Toxic chocs, dangerous nuts and more
Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine, a bit like caffeine, that’s poisonous to dogs. So never put chocolate treats or presents that contain chocolate, on or under your tree. Just as importantly, when the family is sitting back and relaxing and passing around that tin of sweets never give in to those puppy dog eyes.
We can’t stress enough that Christmas food contains some of the most dangerous foods for your dog to eat. The list includes:
- Christmas pudding
- Mince pies
- Fruit cake
- Macadamia nuts
- Sugarless gum
- Blue cheese
If your crafty dog manages to grab something he shouldn’t, keep an eye out for any changes in appearance or behaviour – like poor breathing, excessive panting, muscle twitching, vomiting and diarrhoea. Please get him or her to your local vet as soon as possible.
Leftovers aren’t a dog’s dinner
Indulgence is the name of the game over Christmas but don’t be tempted to give your dog the leftovers from your festive meal. Bones from the Christmas turkey or other seasonal bird are likely to splinter and can cause internal damage. Not only may the food include ingredients toxic to your dog, mould in leftovers (including yoghurt, bread and cheese) can produce toxins that cause rapid onset convulsions.
Hair of the dog
Over the festive season guests and family often leave their drinks lying around. Inquisitive dogs may well be tempted to have a slurp or three. Problem is that alcohol can have a similar effect on them as it does on us. They can become wobbly and drowsy and in severe cases there is a risk of low body temperatures, low blood sugar and even coma. Make sure you clean up spillages as they happen and never leave leftover drinks on doggy level.
Candles and open fires
It’s lovely to have fragrant candles around your home at Christmas time. Just remember to keep them out of range of an accidental swipe of your dog’s paw or tail. Also, although candles are considered to be of low toxicity, it’s worth remembering that ingestion could potentially block the intestine or cause choking. As an alternative you could consider getting flameless and artificially lit candles as they give a similar gentle glow without the risk.
A cracking and cosy log fire is another festive favourite and with good reason. However, if you’ve an open fireplace and your dog isn’t used to it, he or she may go too close to investigate so a fireguard makes a lot of sense.
As the frosts and ice become more frequent and winter weather really sets in be extra vigilant when taking your four-legged friend walkies. The smell of antifreeze is extremely alluring for dogs. Out in the street people often spill it when refilling their car and it drains into roadside puddles, along with screen de-icer and de-icer salt. It makes for a highly toxic slurp for your pooch. In fact it can be fatal. Keep them well away. Read more of our winter dog walking tips here.
Give your dog a special and safe Christmas treat
Your dog needn’t miss out on all the festive cheer, just make sure it makes your Christmas as well as his or hers a real delight. Dog friendly stocking fillers and healthy snacks, toys and clothes are guaranteed to get your dog’s tail wagging and put a jolly smile on your face.
Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you!