A Merry Christmas for Dogs: Dave’s Top 10 Tips

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Dr David Tweedle, My Family Pet Vet and Clinical Director at Natures Vet in Somerset, imparts his expertise to help make Christmas as fun and safe as possible for our dogs.

    1. Keep a close eye on your dog's weight

    It’s frosty, chilly and wet outside now so our dog walks aren’t lasting as long. This means our dogs are doing less exercise and this in turn means they don’t need to eat as much.

    You can keep your dog at a healthy weight by sticking to their recommended food portion at all times – and by keeping the snacks and treats to a minimum.

    2. Be wary when putting up your decorations

        Lots of changes in your dog’s environment can be a little stressful for them, so the best thing to do is put your decorations up slowly, preferably over the course of a few days.

        Changes in your dog’s environment can also appeal to their curious side so take care not to leave your pooch alone with tinsel, Christmas lights, baubles or any other trinket they could end up swallowing.

        Doggy member Amsie

        3. Take care of your Christmas tree

            If you’ve decided to buy a real tree, take extra care to stop the needles falling out and getting all over your carpet. They can damage your dog’s paws if they get lodged under them or between the toes.

            Watering the tree regularly will keep it healthy and will stop the needles from falling out – just make sure to keep the water covered and out of reach of thirsty dogs.

            Doggy member Charlie

            4. ‘Your owner is always watching…’

              This blends into my last 2 points, but it’s a good idea at Christmas to keep watch over your dog at all times. Don’t tempt fate by leaving them alone with your tree, any presents or decorations that could get lodged in their throats or any treats that could potentially be poisonous.

              5. Stay vigilant around poisonous foods and plants

                Take extra care when handling or tucking into chocolate, alcohol, mince pies, Christmas cake/pudding, cooked bones, xylitol (sweetener), corn on the cob, garlic and fatty foods – they can all cause your dog a great deal of harm if they eat them, sometimes even just the smallest amount.

                When you’re leaving out treats for Santa, make sure they’re out of the way of curious paws.

                Plants like holly, ivy and mistletoe are all toxic to dogs too, so you’ll want to be equally cautious around those.

                6. Give your pet a gift

                  Their very own gift will work wonders at keeping your doggy entertained. Puzzle feeders are especially good because they combine your dog’s curiosity with their natural love of food – it’s really a no-brainer.

                  Doggy member Max

                  7. Allow your pet some time on their own

                    There should be a space in your house that your dog can go to, that’s theirs and theirs alone. All the new people, objects, smells and noises may excite your dog, but it can also get to be too much for them so it’s important that they can escape from it all if they want to.

                    If you don’t have a spare room, putting a blanket over your dog’s crate so nobody can see in and they can’t see out is the next best thing.

                    8. Check if your guests are as pet-savvy as you

                      Remember that although dogs are the centre of our world, they’re not necessarily the centre of everybody else’s! If you’re heading out for Christmas or if you’re having people over, check a few things out with your family and friends. Where is their designated dog bathroom, for example?

                      9. Remember: you know your pet best

                        It’s all well and true that things like cowering, shivering, growling and barking in excess are universally understood as signs of stress. But the person who knows your pet best is you. Stay on the lookout in case your furry friend starts to appear stressed or uncomfortable.  

                        10. If your pet really hates Christmas, consider a calming product

                          If the Christmas period is too intense for your dog, you could think about getting a pheromone spray or diffuser to help them out. If this seems like the best course of action for your dog, have a chat with your vet before buying your product of choice – they’ll be able to recommend the right one based on your individual pet and their needs.  

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