The holidays can be stressful times for both humans and canines, but they don’t have to be! Here are some tips on keeping both you and your pet safe and sane during the holidays.
Food (and what dogs may think is food!)
What are our dogs to make of all the new and strange things that appear for only a few weeks once a year? We all know our their definitions of “edible” differ from our own…, and while it may seem obvious that you should keep your dogs from having the opportunity to eat tinsel or confetti, the holiday season can bring out new plants and foods that can be dangerous as well. Popular plants such as poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe, can cause serious gastrointestinal upset if ingested, and should be kept out of dogs’ reach. Caffeine, chocolate, and anything sweetened with xylitol, are also dangerous to the health of our furry friends. Try not to keep food or drinks (especially alcoholic) on low tables, but if you must, watch your dog and replace the glasses with plastic cups so when (not if!) your dog tips it over it won't shatter!
It is important to keep similar eating and exercise habits for your dog, even if our own may change drastically during the cold, food-heavy season. Fortunately, you can supplement (not replace) some of your dog’s typical outdoor exercise time with indoor games and toys. Working toys like kongs, doggy puzzles, and chew sticks, can keep your dog’s mind and mouth busy and working as well as provide mental stimulation. If your dog’s walks get shorter and shorter as the weather gets colder, reward them when they come back inside by playing a game of fetch or tug for the remainder of the time you would have walked them had it been nicer weather.
Some of us visit friends or relatives and some of us host these visitors during the holidays. Either way, we must accommodate for our dogs, whether it be keeping our dog safe and happy during a party or finding a responsible dog-sitter. It is important to train polite greetings, but don’t just train your dog to be polite to visitors, train your visitors to be polite to your dog! Let them know what your dog does and doesn’t like, and let them know anything else they should do to keep the dog safe (i.e. allergies, food allowed, child-control, etc.) Always make sure your dog has a safe and quiet relaxation space to retreat to during the hubbub if they so decide.
Health and Safety
If your dog is a little clumsy, or perhaps likes to investigate new objects with their mouth, it is extremely important to keep them away from precarious and dangerous situations.
- Always tightly secure any indoor trees to a very sturdy base/wall to keep from toppling.
- Candles should be kept out of tail-swishing reach.
- Avoid low hanging decorations (ornaments, lights, etc.) if your dog is curiously mischievous OR to be left unattended.
- Avoid exposed wires and electrical plugs/strips
- Trees often have pesticides and other chemicals, so do not let your dog drink the tree-water or chew on or ingest needles and branches.