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Health & care

How to keep your dog safe at Christmas

Date updated: 29 11 2018

Christmas Pug

Trees, tinsel and treats. Lots of presents and plenty of people. What’s not to love about Christmas? Truth is, with everything turned upside down, the festive season can sometimes be a little overwhelming, not to mention hazardous, for your furry friends. With this in mind, here’s how to make sure that your pooch stays safe…

Dog-proofed Christmas trees
Something new and exciting has just appeared in the living room. Sparkly balls, lights, branches to chew at and even some boxes underneath: this must be the best new toy ever…

Christmas trees are made to be admired - and you can pretty much guarantee that your buddy will be drawn to it. For some dogs, the initial novelty wears off very quickly, while for others it’s viewed as one big potential plaything right through till January.

  • Take care with electrical decorations. If chewed, the electrical wires connected to the lights pose a risk of electrocution, as well as strangulation if your dog gets into a tangle.
  • Make sure plastic, ceramic and glass baubles are out of reach. They can cause nasty internal injuries if chewed and eaten, and there’s also the risk of the entire tree coming down on your dog. 
  • Consider putting up a barrier between tree and dog. One option is to position it in the corner and place a fold-up dog gate around it. The tree is cordoned off but everyone can still see it.
  • Find the right light setting. If your buddy seems worried and your lights are on a flash setting, switching it to constant should help calm them down.

Dog decorating essentials

  • Keep all breakable decorations well out of your dog’s reach. Take snow globes, for instance: many of these contain anti-freeze, which is seriously toxic if swallowed.
  • Be wary of tinsel - it can become twisted inside the intestine if swallowed.
  • Be careful with Christmas plants too. Many of them are poisonous - such as mistletoe, holly and poinsettias.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended. A swishing tail can also very easily knock down them over.

If these items suddenly appear in the home, there’s a good chance your dog will want to investigate them - so keep them out of the way. 

 Christmas dog

Wrapping and decorating: try and do it when your buddy’s out!
When those decorations appear one after the other from their boxes, your dog is likely to want to get involved. Same goes if the paper, sellotape and scissors are out for wrapping. If you know your buddy can be nosy, it’s probably safer and easier to do these jobs when they’re busy doing something else in another room or out on their walk with another member of the family.

Party time: setting up a safe space
When the whole crew is suddenly at the door, it can be a lot for your dog to deal with. If they bark more than usual whenever the doorbell sounds, if they are panting or pacing up and down, these are all signs that they’re stressed out.

  • Take your buddy for a long walk before the party starts. This can help put your buddy  in a relaxed state of mind.
  • Prepare by setting up a ‘den’ in a quieter part of the house. This may not be neccessary for all dogs, but it's a good idea if yours is likely to get a bit stressed once people start arriving.
  • Kit out the Christmas den with their favourite toys, blanket, some extra bedding, their water bowl and maybe a treat or two. If everyone’s hanging around the kitchen and living room, set up the den in a room away from the action. That way they can come and join the party when they feel like it, and then retreat for some down-time if things get overwhelming.

Play time: take it easy
Christmas can mean lots of young kids descending on the home - and the chances are, they’re very excited to play with their furry friend.

Make sure new intros are supervised, and especially with little ones, always have someone responsible in the room to ensure the play doesn’t get out of hand.

Dinner time: dog treats only
Your buddy’s Christmas dinner should consist of their fave thing from their regular diet list. Giving them something completely new might seem like a treat, but there’s a risk that it will disagree with them - and no-one wants to deal with the repercussions on the big day. 

  • Only feed your dog treats that are made for dogs. Chocolate, sweets and alcohol are three of the biggest no-nos on our list of human foods you shouldn’t share with your dog  - something that’s definitely worth looking over and sharing with other dog owners before Christmas. 
  • Keep your buddy well away from the turkey or goose carcass! Cooked bones can splinter easily, and this can cause serious internal damage.

We love Christmas because it’s a welcome winter break from the same-old routine - but remember that your buddy actually loves that routine. So while you shouldn’t pass up the chance to pamper your pooch, when it comes to the essentials like meal times and daily walks, it’s worth making that extra effort to keep things as “normal” as possible.  

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