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How to keep your dog safe and happy over Christmas

Because the last thing you need is a Christmas day vet run

For most of us, Christmas is the busiest time of the year. We catch up with friends and family, and it feels like there's always something going on.

And then comes Christmas day. If you're a lucky one, you only have to attend one celebration for the day. But when you've got larger, separated or extended families, you could have a full-on day of visiting.

So, what happens to your fur babies?

Do you take your dog with you, or do they stay at home? Do you allow others to bring their pets over too?

Dogs love company, and I reckon Christmas is one of their favourite times of the year as they get to see all their favourite humans.

But Christmas can be a stressful time for dogs too

A house full of noisy guests, kids running riot and other animals can be quite stressful for our pets if they're not used to it.

It can also be tiring for our older fur babies who'd prefer to spend the day sleeping instead of 'entertaining' guests. Be mindful of your dog, gauge their reactions and make sure you have a quiet place they can escape to.

And if the weather is warmer and you're entertaining outside, make sure you've got lots of water on hand if your dog is likely to stay with you or run around with kids in the yard.

HINT: A great way to de-stress your dog is to take them for a walk before everyone arrives. This way, they may even sleep through the festivities.

Here are 4 top tips for keeping your dog safe at Christmas

1. Don't give in to begging or puppy eyes (and ask your guests to do the same)

The kinds of Christmas food we eat can be fatal to dogs. Foods like avocado, chocolate, Christmas pudding or fruit cake, cooked bones, currants or grapes, gravy, ham or pork, lollies, onion and macadamia nuts.

And never believe the theory, 'One little bit won't hurt, it's a Christmas treat'. When dogs eat overly rich or fatty foods (such as Christmas ham), they can develop health issues like pancreatitis.

However, as guests get 'merry', there are children around, or plates are left at their eye level, your dog may find a way to eat that yummy smelling human food. If your dog starts finding it difficult to breathe, is panting excessively, has muscle twitches or vomiting and diarrhoea, you'll need to take a trip to your local vet's office.

2. Alcohol is not a dog drink

While many of us will celebrate the festive season with a drink or two, it's an absolute no-go zone for your dog. It can be hard to keep an eye on everything while you're hosting a gathering but ask guests to make sure they leave their drinks up high.

If it's a warm day and your dog is feeling a little thirsty, they may lick glasses that are at their level. And if drunk Uncle Dave thinks it's funny to give your dog a sip of beer, you'll have to be the party pooper!

The effects of alcohol on dogs range from depression, difficulty walking, slow breathing, collapsing and may result in death.

3. Create a dog safe Christmas tree

Everyone thinks it's cats (or koalas) who destroy Christmas trees, but your dog can be just as naughty. Christmas trees can be dangerous to dogs for:

  • Electrocution if they chew through your lights. You should cover the electric cord part of your lights with plastic.

  • Stomach injury or obstruction if they eat glass ornaments, decorations and tinsel. Your tree may look a little odd, but you could place the tinsel up higher (out of their reach) and make sure your ornaments are secured well.

  • Stomach upsets from eating pine needles or drinking stagnant water from a live Christmas tree. Make sure you change the water or place a box or cover around the base so your dog can't get to the water.

  • Accidental injuries like strangulation or being crushed if they get entwined in tinsel or ribbons, or they manage to pull the tree down on top of them. You should always stabilise your tree, and keep all presents up high. And when people open their presents, dispose of the wrapping straight away.

4. Beware of batteries and toys

It's one of the most commonly asked questions on Christmas day – 'Do you have any batteries?'. Many toys require them, and you need to be careful that you don't leave them lying around the house for your dog to find.

If your dog eats a battery, their symptoms can range from an upset stomach or burning their gut, through to a life-threatening obstruction. You'll need to get to a vet's immediately.

You'll need to make sure your kids, or visiting kids, keep their toys out of reach of your dog, particularly if they're a chewer. Eating plastic, rubber or metal from toys will cause your dog to choke or have an intestinal blockage.

Give your dog a special treat of their own

You don't want your fur baby to miss out, so don't forget to spoil them with dog-friendly treats.

You could:

  • Buy them a new toy to keep them amused

  • Give them a natural treat or raw bone to keep them away from the food

  • Fill up their favourite Kong

  • Have the kids play fetch or take your dog for a walk

  • Create a treasure hunt around your yard with dry food treats

  • Dress them up in funny costumes

Do you have any other top Christmas hints to share?

If you've got any more ideas, hints or tips on how to keep our pets safe this Christmas, I'd love for you to share them in the comments below.

Wishing all of you, and your lovely pets, a very safe and happy festive season.


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