Prepare your dog for a furry-tale Christmas - Veterinary Practice
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Prepare your dog for a furry-tale Christmas

Dogs Trust has put together a useful guide to helping your four-legged friends enjoy the festivities

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for many, but the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas can be a sensory overload for your dog. From unexpected visitors to over-zealous family members, and endless food temptations – there is a lot for your dog (and you!) to cope with.

Dogs Trust has put together a useful guide to helping your four-legged friends enjoy the festivities to the full whilst staying healthy and happy.

Coping with visitors

Christmas time brings more houseguests or, this year, more socially-distanced doorstep visitors. Despite Christmas gatherings being smaller this year with the three-household rule, it could still be a shock for your dog who will have become accustomed to having peace and quiet thanks to lockdowns and restrictions meaning less visitors to the homes. But there are ways to keep everyone safe and help reduce stress.

  • On the days you’re having guests over, it’s important to stick to your daily routine as much as possible, for example feed and exercise times. If you’ve kept to your normal routine the chances are your dog will be nice and relaxed by the time they arrive. You can also help your dog to stay calm by giving them a distraction when your guests first arrive, for example a long-lasting treat such as a food-stuffed Kong.
  • If children are coming who aren’t used to being around dogs (or your dog isn’t used to children), have a chat with the family beforehand to make sure the children understand how to behave, for example, to be calm, and not to approach the dog especially if it is eating or sleeping. It’s important to never leave a child alone with a dog.
  • Make sure your dog has somewhere they go for peace and quiet with his doggie bed and fresh water when the festivities get too much. They’ll return when they are ready to be part of the fun again!

Preparing for Christmas

  • When you’re gift wrapping, dressing the tree and putting your decorations up it’s important to keep your dog safe. Wrapping paper, string, plastic, or cloth are all too easy to get hold of but can cause severe problems if your dog has the opportunity to eat them.
  • It is also important to be mindful that a dog might also get confused by having a “tree” in their home, so could potentially urinate on it as it is used to doing this on trees outside. Our Dog School guide to house training your dog is full of great advice if you need to refresh your dog’s training.
  • Dogs have incredibly sensitive hearing so consider avoiding crackers and party poppers. If prosecco or champagne is on the menu, make sure you keep your dog at a distance when you’re popping the cork.
  • Throughout the Christmas holidays and especially at New Year, there will be fireworks. There are lots of things you can do to help your dog keep calm, particularly by creating a safe and secure den for them to go to if they would like to. Find out more about preparing your dog for fireworks here.

Christmas Food and treats

Most of us like to indulge over Christmas – and so do our dogs, but you need to make sure they stick to dog-friendly treats. There are some foods your dog will need to be kept away from including

  • Grapes, raisins or sultanas (and wine)
  • Chocolate – don’t forget chocolate decorations on the tree are easy pickings
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Mince pies and Christmas pudding
  • Rich fatty foods/fat trimmings
  • Cooked bones from Christmas meats
  • Avocado
  • Onion
  • Holly berries
  • Alcohol
  • Xylitol – an artificial sweetener found in some sugar-free foods

A full list of unsafe foods can be found in Dogs Trust fact sheet.

Dogs Trust’s website has a host of useful information for dog owners as well.

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Veterinary Practice is an online knowledge and information hub for veterinary professionals across all specialties. It provides reliable, useful and interesting content, written by expert authors and covering small animal, large animal, equine and practice management sectors of the veterinary surgeon and nursing professions.

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