Your dog’s safety over Christmas

Christmas can be a strange and dangerous time for dogs. Here are some tips from ‘Vets Now’ to prepare them for the big day, and hazards for your pooch to avoid around the home.

Your dog's safety over Christmas

The festive season can be a strange time for our dogs. Their usual home environment is filled with trees, flowers and other decorations and there are odd noises such as crackers and fireworks. Your routine is likely to change and there may be unfamiliar visitors coming to the house.

Preparation

What can you do to help your dog cope better if you notice that they are not acting like their usual selves?

For instance they may have:

  • Begun to hide away
  • Become more vocal
  • Had a few toileting accidents
  • Begun to show increased flank or paw licking
  • Started to lick their lips, yawn or pant a lot
  • Begun to act in a way you are not familiar with

Here’s some top tips on how you can help them cope:

1. Start by beginning the preparations early. Begin to change the way your house looks over a period of weeks instead of all in one day. This gives your dog time to cope with the changes as you introduce the decorations gradually. During this time make sure there is a nice Kong (with a smearing of fish-paste, cheese spread or peanut butter inside) or a puzzle toy close by to keep your dog occupied and feeling good about their world as it changes.

2. Make sure your dog has his or her own safe familiar area and leave it unchanged. This is somewhere they can retreat to if the partying becomes too much.

3. Keep to your dog’s regular walking and feeding routines.

4. Ask all unfamiliar visitors to calmly ignore your dog and have some tasty treats they can offer once your dog is coping better.

5. On Christmas day have a few loosely wrapped doggy presents so your dog is happily distracted whilst the rest of the family are opening theirs. However, once you have taught your dog that unwrapping presents is fun you will never be able to leave your own presents unattended beneath the tree. Also make sure the presents are appropriate and that you don’t end up giving your dog a mountain of edible treats that disappear within minutes. A new puzzle toy is a great idea as you can use your dog’s own allotted amount of food to keep them occupied.

6. A good walk after dinner is always a good idea.

7. Be careful when giving your dog human food.

Food hazards

Chocolate, onions, nuts, blue cheese, fruit cakes, puddings and mince pies can all be toxic to dogs. Watch out for turkey bones as these can cause choking, constipation or cause damage to your dog’s intestines.

Christmas trees

Your dog's safety over ChristmasMost species are low toxicity but may cause a mild gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and/or diarrhoea) if chewed. Pine needles in themselves can get stuck in paws and cause irritation as well as potentially causing irritation or perforation of the intestines if eaten. Vacuum daily and ideally keep plenty of water in the bucket to help reduce the number of fallen needles.

Decorations

Christmas decorations are designed to look attractive and beautiful, unfortunately this usually means they are also tempting to your furry friends. Whilst not often toxic in their own right they can still cause significant problems if ingested. Baubles will tend to splinter or smash into shards which can cause irritation, perforation or blockages and dogs tend to eat tinsel a little like spaghetti – often consuming an entire ribbon of tinsel in one go! Again these are often not especially toxic (even if not particularly nutritious either) but can bunch up and cause blockages or, more worryingly start to work their way through the guts whilst some is still in the stomach, this effectively runs a thread through the intestines and causes a linear foreign body which can be extremely serious!

Your dog may also get a nasty shock if they chew through the electrical cable for your Christmas lights!

Batteries

Ingestion of batteries is more common at this time of year. If the battery is chewed and pierced it can cause chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning. If they are swallowed whole it is possible they will cause an obstruction. All batteries are potentially toxic so if you suspect your dog has chewed or swallowed a battery speak to your local vet.

Christmas presents

One area where people can come unstuck is with Christmas presents. We put a lot of effort in hiding away potential problems but then wrap up auntie Flo’s big box of chocolates to place under the tree. Although we can no longer tell what it is… our dogs can! Apart from the irritation of having them unwrap someone else’s present and having diarrhoea in the living room on Christmas day, there is likely to be an emergency trip to the vets needed. Make sure any tasty or tempting presents are placed high enough out of the way so that your dog can’t help themselves.

Here’s to a fun filled but dog happy Christmas!

(Article source: Vets Now)


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