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  • Writer's pictureToby

Dogs and Christmas

It's already December and Christmas is creeping up fast. Lots of planning goes into Christmas Day and it’s a good idea to plan ahead for our dogs as well.

Whilst many dogs are social, they do get tired at Christmas and - just like children – they need a quiet, safe place to rest. Have a soft bed prepared in a laundry or safe area for them to sneak away from the festivities. This is particularly important if your dog is not comfortable around people. If so, don't force them to engage.

Consider your dogs if you are travelling together. Take regular toilet and walk breaks and watch for signs of stress in new environments. These could include lip licking, yawning, avoiding, hiding, growling or even snapping. Not all dogs cope with change well, particularly if they are not used to going to new places. Provide a safe quiet space and let them adapt in their own time. Let them sniff and explore. Dogs don't need to meet every new person and dog the minute they arrive. Often less is more.

Similarly, give dogs time and space if you have friends or family visiting with their dogs. Introduce safely in a neutral area where possible and take them on a long sniffy parallel walk at a distance before putting them in the backyard or house together. Not all dogs want to share their space with new dogs so organise separate areas in need. Reward calm behaviour when they are around each other. Dogs won't just 'sort it out' because we want them to. Forcing dogs together before they are ready can in fact make things worse and not better.

Keep your dogs away from the table laden with goodies. Many of our Christmas foods can be toxic to dogs, including alcohol, coffee, avocado, ham, raisins and nuts. Avoid adding left - over gravy and sauces to your dog's dinner plate - they can be very rich and cause diarrhea and vomiting. The Animal Poisons Hotline is a great resource to contact if you think your dog might have ingested something poisonous: 1300 869 738. They provide emergency information and will likely refer you to your Vet as well.

Place a barrier around the Christmas tree to prevent swallowing of Christmas baubles which can cause a blockage if ingested. This can be a baby gate, child's play pen or even furniture. Similarly, toys often contain small pieces and batteries which can also be harmful if swallowed so restrict access and monitor if the kids are playing around the dogs.

Get the kids involved in some fun activities like dog biscuits and snuffle mats. These can be wrapped up under the tree for their own dogs or given as gifts to dogs of friends and family.

Martha Stewart has some great recipes for yummy dog biscuits:

Snuffle mats are easy to make:

Ice blocks made with stock or left -over meat are also a great idea, particularly on a hot Christmas Day. They can be eaten on their own or added to the water bowl. Most visitors don’t like paw prints all over their good Christmas clothes so put your dogs behind a baby gate - or outside - when visitors first arrive. Give them a snuffle mat covered in kibble or small cat treats to keep them occupied while you are greeting your family members.

Christmas is a good time for us to spoil our dogs as well. Always consider the size of any toys you are buying to prevent choking hazards. Ensure you have a toy for each dog if you have multiple dogs. Keep dogs separate when there is food around and ask children to leave them alone to avoid any potential guarding issues.

Preparation and management can help keep our dogs safe over the festive season. Hospital visits are expensive during the holiday season and I'm sure our Vets want to be home celebrating as well. Don’t hesitate to contact your Vet clinic however if you have any concerns regarding your dogs’ health at Christmas or at any other time Merry Christmas!

I hope Santa is good to you and your dogs!

Cheers, Toby xx



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