You all know how much I love my fur babies. I also love Christmas. While we may love the holiday season and all it brings – decorating, a constant stream of house guests, and lots of revelry, music, food, and drink – to a pet, this can actually be quite a stressful time. Quito is a sensitive little dog. He feels his home is absolutely his castle and having a lot of disruptions in his normal routine can make him very stressed out. Of course, we want him to be a part of the festivities. He’s part of our family and enjoying Christmas with him and the whole crew is really important to us.
So, I’m teaming up with Pedigree today on my post to chat about keeping your dog happy and healthy during the Christmas season. It’s so easy to get caught up in the festivities and forget our furry friends may have a very different view of the holiday season. I wanted to share some of my tips today on making sure your pup enjoys the holiday season as much as you and your family do.
Tip 1: Maintain a normal routine
Dogs thrive on routine. They like for things to remain relatively unchanged but when the chaos of Christmas arrives, we may think nothing of feeding them at a different time or skipping that evening walk altogether. However, it’s really important to maintain his or her routine as much as you can. Feed him at the same time as he always is fed, take her for her normal planned walk if at all possible, and make sure he gets just as much love and attention as he would any other day.
Tip 2: Decorate gradually
You may be moving furniture around to accommodate your tree or you may find yourself putting away pet beds to make room for extra guests. Changing the whole look of the house can be incredibly unsettling for dogs so consider decorating your home gradually in stages rather than all in one day. It may feel a little more disruptive to you but it will keep your pup more relaxed.
Of course, you want to always ensure that any trailing wires are out of a dog’s reach and any hanging decorations are kept well away from curious paws. The first year we had Quito, he bit right into a string of Christmas lights and I nearly cried when he yelped. He was fine, thank goodness, but I learned my lesson early on that any wires are far from where he can easily have a chew.
Tip 3: Give Your Dog a Groom
Make sure your dog feels happily pampered with a professional dog grooming before the big day. A nice-smelling coat and trimmed nails will make for a happier dog as well as happier guests when they enter your home. You might want to also consider washing your pet blankets, toys, and beds in advance as well to make sure there are no lingering odors to compete with that gorgeous Christmas dinner!
Tip 4: Make sure your dog has a safe zone
It may be best if you are expecting a big crowd to make sure your dog has a safe spot to retreat from all the noise. Quito is a friendly and happy dog but even he gets exhausted by visitors and allowing him to curl up in a quiet corner to get away from the noise makes for a much less stressed-out dog. You might want to assess your dog’s behavior around strangers or visitors well in advance to ensure he or she is not in any way aggressive or requires any (positive!) behavioral training.
If your dog has been crate-trained, it’s the perfect opportunity to set up his or her crate in a quiet room away from the noise along with a favorite blanket, bed, or chew toys. Make sure you warn children (and adults!) that when your dog is having his or her quiet time, that they resist the urge from going into the room and disturbing your dog.
Tip 5: Be Aware of Toxins in Paper & Plants
Wrapping paper can contain harmful chemicals such as bleach and chlorine which can be dangerous to dogs when ingested so while he may enjoy ripping open his presents, it’s probably best to leave your dog’s presents unwrapped or use simple un-dyed kraft paper or cardboard boxes! Be aware that there are lots of Christmas plants that can also be toxic including favorites such as mistletoe, holly, and poinsettia, which are all toxic to dogs. If you do wish to have these plants in your home during the holidays, keep them far out of reach from your furry friends.
Tip 6: Be Aware of Christmas Dinner
What do you mean I don’t get a Christmas dinner?!
While it’s perfectly fine to treat your furry friend with a special Christmas dinner, be aware that your dog won’t be able to have exactly the same meal as you. White turkey meat, giblets, mashed potato, plain veg, and a bit of pumpkin are perfectly fine, be aware that high fat and high salt foods are dangerous to your dog. Onions (including onion powder used in gravy or stuffing mixes) and leeks can cause liver damage so please don’t ever let your dog lick the plates clean. As tempting as it is to treat your dog with a few tasty scraps from Christmas dinner, you may want to warn your guests not to feed your dog at the table or give him or her any cooked bones which can splinter and cause internal damage.
Tip 7: Keep Them Away from Chocolate
Of course, chocolate is one thing in abundance at Christmas time, and as tempting, as your pup maybe by this tasty treat we all love, it’s actually very dangerous for dogs to ingest. Consider buying him or her some dog-safe chocolate to enjoy on the day but always keep any normal chocolate far out of reach of your dog, including wrappers that can get lodged in your pup’s digestive tract.
Tip 8: Don’t leave food or alcohol on the floor or on low surfaces
Speaking of Christmas treats, make sure you don’t have any food or alcohol on the floor or on low surfaces during the festivities. It may seem innocent for a guest to place their wine glass on the floor as they are chatting but a curious pup will find it a temptation to partake as well. Ensure you have a few cleared surfaces available high above your dog’s reach for guests to place their food and drink.
Tip 9: Sweep Up Stray Pine Needles
Make sure you sweep up any pine needles from your tree as they fall. If they are ingested, they can be toxic to pets.
Tip 10: Buy Some Fun Dog Toys
With a bustling house full of people, it may be a great time to buy your dog some extra toys. Quito adores a game of tug so a tugging rope is always included in his presents for Christmas. Choose a new tug toy, a frisbee, or a ball in your pup’s presents and if your dog is happy too, allow your guests to play with him or her with the new toy, giving your furry friend plenty of exercise and attention on the day as well as wearing him or her out just a little so they are happy to sleep after the fun.
Tip 11: Speak to your guests before they arrive
It may seem awkward now but a quick conversation with your guests before they arrive may spare your dog from having a stressful time or even worse, seeing your dog get ill during the holiday season. Be sure your guests are aware of some of the tips above in terms of leaving food around, leaving the dog alone during the day if he or she goes off for a nap, or making sure the kids don’t get too rough with him or her. A few words now are worth the happiness of your dog.
Tip 12: Beware Doors opening and closing
Make sure guests are aware not to leave any doors open where the dog might escape during the day. With front and back doors or gates constantly swinging open and closed, it’s important you are aware of where your precious pet is. The last thing you will want is a full-on search on Christmas day.
Christmas should be a joyful time of love, laughter, fun, and memories. Please let your dog enjoy the festivities but keep him safe and healthy too. Now, I’d love to hear from you – what do you do to prepare your pets for Christmas? Anything I might have missed?