Do’s and Do Not’s for a Happy Doggy Christmas by Anna Webb
Christmas brings lots of stress for us humans, despite it representing kindness and joy! We asked our friend and expert Anna Webb to share her tips on ensuring a calm, fun and safe Christmas for our furkids.
How can us pet parents ensure Christmas is as calm, fun and safe for our ‘furkids’?
Often a household of visitors can stress out the most seasoned socialite pooch. Understanding that for a ‘pandemic puppy’ that’s just turned ‘teenage’, visiting family and friends poses a challenging situation.
Through lockdown the lack of socialisation opportunities to learn good indoor meet and greets, has left even the most desensitized dogs out of practice, and many totally unable to cope with the excitement.
Your dog needs a ‘safe area’ to escape to, allowing him time out from any socialising. In a room, perhaps in a crate, with the radio on, complete with a KONG or chew to keep them busy, distracted and calm.
At my London flat, we’ll not have a Christmas tree this year, it’s too much of a health and safety hazard with Prudence my Bull terrier, Gremlin, my seven-kilo cat, and little Mr Binks!
It’s a sobering thought that according to Co-op insurance 12 % of pooches do spend Christmas Day at the Vets, a situation well worth avoiding!
I suggest fake trees are best, as real ones shed their spikey needles, which can pierce paw pads and like a grass seed cause a lot of harm and expense at the vets.
If ingested pine needle can be toxic, but they’re more likely to cause a vet emergency getting lodged in your dog’s throat.
Both cats and dogs love the Christmas tree, but beware of tinsel and fairy lights, especially if your cheeky teenager decides to cock his leg on the new indoor tree!
Choose fabric decorations, and never use chocolate ones, or festive raw hide alternatives. Apart from the chocolate being toxic to dogs, raw hides can cause a stomach blockage. Equally Sellotape and wrapping paper can be dangerous if swallowed.
Keep Poinsettias out of reach along with mince pies, Christmas cake and Christmas. Raisins and grapes are the most common festive ingredients but, like chocolate, potentially fatal to dogs.
Maintain your dog’s routine. Exercise him before visitors arrive, feed him his usual food as his regular times. A few pieces of turkey and green veggies, without gravy, could make for a tasty treat in a KONG, but avoid any rich cheeses, pastries, cream, cake, and other festive foods.
They don't know its Party Season
Keep a lid on your stress as dogs don’t understand it’s Christmas, but all the decorations alone shout there’s an event up coming. Remember dogs smell your fluctuating cortisol levels, and stress in contagious. So stay calm and think of your dog.
Indulge your pooch with gifts, treats and games that are fun and healthy.
If Christmas is for giving, perhaps think of dogs less fortunate than your own, including those sleeping rough with their homeless owners, helped by StreetVet.
And those in need of a ‘furever’ home from rescues like The Wild At Heart Foundation.
Afterall ‘A Dog is for life, not just for Christmas’!
Anna Webb – Broadcaster, Author, has studied natural nutrition and therapies with the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies (CIVT). She lives in London and is owned by Prudence a Miniature Bull Terrier, Mr Binks, a re-homed English Toy Terrier and Gremlin her rescued street cat. www.annawebb.co.uk