Any dog owner will be aware of the dangers that the festive season can bring for our pups. With tasty treats in abundance that aren’t made for doggy tummies, as well as tempting gifts and decorations just begging to be chewed on, it can be tricky to puppy-proof the house in time for Santa’s arrival.
But how can we remove the fear and focus on the good stuff? How can we include our dog in the festive fun fear-free?
Well, we all know that one of the best things about Christmas is the FOOD, and with the right know-how, you can give your dogs a tasty treat this December, whilst also knowing what to avoid.
We are going to take a look at some of the dangerous foods for dogs at Christmas, some tips for treating your dog at Christmas, as well as how to keep your dog calm during Christmas parties and gatherings.
Treats to avoid
A lot of traditional festive foods seem to feature raisins at Christmas time - everything from mince pies and pudding to the tasty tradition of Christmas cake, sultanas and raisins are about in abundance and, unfortunately, aren’t very good for our eagle-eyed pups.
Raisins and sultanas are poisonous to dogs, and while toxicity is rare it does happen, with a higher risk during the festive season. Not only that, but many of these treats are soaked in alcohol which isn’t good for dogs. This can cause considerable upset to their system, often resulting in unwanted mess.
The other biggest risk to your dog during this time is the abundance of Christmas chocolates that make an appearance. Small and easy to snaffle quickly and often left in bowls within paws reach, chocolate is extremely toxic for dogs and can make them seriously unwell.
Keep the festive chocolates to yourself!
Tips for treating your dog at Christmas
The delicious smells coming from the kitchen on Christmas Day can be torture for a dog’s sensitive nose,and so naturally they will be on high alert during this time.
So, what to do?
Why, share it of course! There are lots of treats that you can give your dog over the festive season that won’t do them harm. For example, you can treat them to some roast chicken and carrots; likewise, other dog-safe foods can be added for extra flavour to a dog’s regular meal as the occasional festive treat.
Of course it is possible to have too much of a good thing, so be sure to monitor your dog’s intake of festive foods and reduce their usual mealtime portions if you’re treating them more frequently throughout the day. But a little bit here and there won’t be harmful.
Being mindful of portion sizes is key during this time to keep your pup both safe and satisfied.
And why not give your dog the gift of proper nutrition this year, by adding a sprinkle of Christmas cheer - or as we like to call it, Wellbeing Essentials Complete 22 - to your dog’s dinner.
Festive fats to avoid for your dog
Rich and fat-heavy foods can often be a cause of an upset stomach for humans and dogs alike, with fat being a potential contributor to digestive problems such as diarrhoea (as well as contributing to more unpleasant issues such as pancreatitis). The not-so-great news? Unfortunately, fat is in abundance during the festive season.
From turkey skin and gravy to goose fat roasties and vegetables, these foods are all delicious but can be damaging for your doggy.
To avoid the nightmare trots of a ‘fat overload’, remove as much obvious fat as possible before giving your dog a taste, and be sure to only give them a small portion. They won’t be used to this kind of food and too much of a good thing can easily upset their stomach; so although they may be dialling their puppy dog eyes up to the max, keep in mind that you’re being firm to be fair.
If you prefer a festive seafood feast at Christmas, then be sure to check out our blog ‘Can Dogs Eat Fish?’ to find out more about dog-safe fish!
Tips for visitors at Christmas time
Many of us travel to visit family or open our homes to loved ones over the Christmas season, and even the most chilled-out dog can be unsettled by these seasonal space invaders - either being overstimulated or anxious during this period.
Here are a few things that can make your dog uneasy during visiting hours:
- Many dogs will love snuggling up on their favourite spot on the couch, and when this safe place is suddenly full of people it can be unsettling.
- Their bed or food bowls may have been moved to make space for more seats in the sitting room. These are your dog’s safe necessities and so finding these have been moved about can induce considerable anxiety and unwanted behaviours in your pooch.
- Suddenly having a few more feet stomping around can be unnerving for your dog. Extra traffic in the house is not only noisy for a dog’s sensitive ears, but as they are closer to the ground they are going to be more affected by having more people around.
So, what can you do to help protect your canine companion?
- Ensure that you create a safe and calm space for your dog amidst the chaos is vital. We want everyone to have a happy Christmas, four-legged or otherwise!
- Do a regular sweep to make sure no snacks or drinks are left lying around for your dog to find - these can be carelessly left within reach and result in very poorly pups. Especially if your friends or family don’t have dogs themselves, they may not be aware of issues such as counter-surfing.
- Actively discourage people from hugging or overcrowding your dog - children in particular can be particularly hands-on when they see a cute canine! This can be overwhelming for your pup and increase their stress levels, so make sure to manage your dog’s boundaries and protect them from unwanted touch.
- Check in with your pup and offer them lots of reassurance - you are their person and can make them feel safer than anyone else can.
Other risks for dogs at Christmas
Not only can festive foods and a wave of Yuletide visitors cause disruption in your dog’s life, it is also important to consider a few of the other things that can put your pup at risk during this time:
- Deck the halls - Pine needles, tinsel, edible decorations and baubles - all these can be very tempting, especially to teething puppies, and so keeping your dog away from the twinkling lights is something to think about.
- Open fires, BBQs and candles - Although it may be summer here in Australia, some of us may still like to light a candle in celebration or have an outdoor fire pit going. And while beautiful, open flames are obviously pretty dangerous, especially if you are covered in highly flammable fur! So where possible, place candles high and out of your dog’s reach.
- The ghost of Christmas presents - Leaving gifts lying around can be a recipe for disaster, from wrapping and ribbons to small bits of plastic toys or jewellery, if your dog can reach it, it will likely be chewed or eaten! So as before, make sure to place gifts out of your dog’s reach.
It can be easy to get bogged down with all the things that could go awry during the Christmas season, and while it is important to be aware of these things, don’t forget that this is a time of rest and gratitude, a time to spend time with those you love.
You are likely reading this because you care deeply for your dog, so enjoy the holidays with them - they truly are a gift!