Dog at Christmas: stress & health6 December 2022
Written by Dr. David Cuffe, MVB MA MRCVS Veterinary Surgeon
Reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy on 6 Jun 2023
David and Hannah from David Cuffe & Associates are back, this time with some festive tips for caring for your dog (owned or borrowed) over Christmas and New Year.
The festive season is upon us! We all love this time of year - the chance to catch up with loved ones, the gorgeous food, plenty of time in our warm homes and also a great time for partying.
Holidays are great fun for dogs too - we all know they love company and will be happy to spend extra time with their owners or new borrower friends. There are, however, a few tips we can offer to ensure that the holidays go smoothly for all!
Top tips for dog lovers this season:
- With Christmas comes plenty of rich food. Tempting bowls of nuts and mince pies are set out around the house, chocolate and candy canes dangle from trees and delicious smelling gifts are placed in prominent display positions (yes, your dog knows what is in your present before you do!). This can all be a bit much for a curious canine and they can often assume that this must all be in their honour and help themselves to the goodies. Many of the foods we commonly keep around the home at this time of year are dangerous. Most of us know that the theobromine contained in chocolate is toxic to dogs but there are also other foods and plants that can be dangerous, including raisins, onions and holly berries. My advice is to anticipate that any dog may find it hard to resist helping themselves to food or interesting new objects lying around and make sure they are kept well out of reach and harm’s way.
- Any sudden change of diet can upset a delicate doggy stomach so it is also a good idea to keep your puppy pal on their usual diet for the day and resist the urge to share your Christmas dinner.
- Holidays can introduce a change in routine. This is a positive for most of us - more time to spend with our human and canine companions! However it is sensible to be aware that some dogs can find a change in routine slightly stressful. Keeping to the usual schedule of feeding and walking times can help alleviate any unease. You may even find the time to inject an extra bit of fun into your dog’s day with some extra exercise or play slots. What better way to work off that Christmas lunch than a lovely stroll in the park?
- Some dogs enjoy a bit of alone time. Making sure they have access to their bed in a quiet spot away from the excitement gives them the option to choose a power nap, should it be required.
- Fireworks phobias are common at this time of year. Long term therapy from a vet and a veterinary behaviourist is advisable but in the short term there are practical measures you can take. Allowing access to a ‘safe place’ as discussed above, closing curtains and doors to minimise noise and flashes and playing music in the house can all help. It is also important to try and act as normal as possible. It seems counter intuitive but comforting a dog who is worried can actually help to reinforce the idea that something terrible is happening. The best thing to do is allow access to their chosen ‘safe place’, let them decide where they’d like to be and act bright and breezy.
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