Top Tips for Dog Care over Christmas

Christmas is a time where we are all busy in merriment, celebrating and having fun with friends and family, obviously also including our four-legged friends. However while we are entertaining visitors, staying at relatives or generally partying we can forget to keep an eye on our pets and the dangers they may face at this time of year. We have put together a guide on things to bare in mind this festive season (and year round really…) so your dog remains safe and happy and you don’t end up with expensive vets bills this Christmas. 

FESTIVE FOOD + DRINK

Christmas pudding and mince pies.

Although it may seem like a treat to slip fido a mince pie from a Christmas buffet it really isn’t a good idea. Grapes and their dried equivalents in lots of Christmas baking (raisins and sultanas etc) are highly toxic to dogs. Ingestion of even a small quantity can cause extreme kidney failure. 

Chocolate  

This cocoa based human treat contains the chemical theobromine, which is a bit like caffeine, is found in chocolate and is toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, problems with the heart and even death in severe cases. The higher the cocoa content (think dark chocolate), the more toxic for your pets. If you have a dog in the house really think about storing chocolate in a safe places, i.e not wrapped up on the floor and certainly not hanging luringly from the tree. 

Alcohol

Booze intoxicates dogs in the same way it does humans but their body mass is typically much smaller than someone 18+. Dogs can become wobbly and drowsy and in severe cases, there is a risk of low body temperature, low blood sugar and coma. Dogs can be lured by the scent of sweet alcohol if left lying around so again please ensure you pick up after the party and don’t leave drinks within reach. 

Leftovers 

Make sure when you dispose of your Christmas leftovers you aren’t leaving bin bags and refuse where your dog can find it. Many dogs end up with turkey bones lodged in their throats over the festive period. Also be aware of the additional leftover filled rubbish on your daily walks for the same reason. We’re not trying to deprive your pup of some of the Christmas feastings though so we have listed what is safe to feed a healthy pup once you’re finished: Turkey meat (no skin or bones, Salmon (fillets or cooked in spring water are preferable to smoked salmon), Scrambled egg, Brussel sprouts, Parsnips, Carrot, Peas, Swede, Mash potato (best without additional butter), New potatoes, Sweet potatoes. Always remember though that giving your dog a vastly increased diet rich in new nutrients or fats can lead to diarrhoea and also vomiting so a little at a time is best.

CHRISTMAS PLANTS

Poinsettia

That beautiful red plant that symbolises Christmas to so many of us can be highly toxic to your pet. It can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach and sometimes vomiting.

Christmas trees, Mistletoe, Holly. 

Festive Holly is considered to be of low toxicity and it’s unlikely your dig with brave it’s sharp leaves, but ingestion of holly berries may result in a stomach upset. European mistletoe berries can, in some cases, result in an upset stomach, American mistletoe is much more dangerous. A mild stomach upset can be caused if dogs eat pine needles, but the sharp tips can cause more damage internally.

OTHER HAZARDS

Christmas decorations + Wrapping paper 

Although lots of the decorations we now use to make our homes festive are purposefully made from materials with low toxicity for pets and children alike they can still cause issues by blocking or damaging their digestive tracks leading to all sorts of problems. The same applies to ingestion of wrapping paper, which dogs find particularly tasty if it’s been housing some edible treats. 

Silica gel

This usually comes in lots of new goods from leather handbags and shoes to electrical gifts and man others. Although not an extreme toxic issue for your dog it will still make them unwell if ingested.

Festive Potpourri

When eaten, potpourri can cause significant gastrointestinal effects in dogs. These may last several days even after the material has passed through the gut.

Ultimately Christmas is a time to relax, rejoice and spend time with our families, including the furry members. The way we see it – as long as you’re keeping a watchful eye on your pet (as you undoubtedly do year round) you should see out this festive season without a need for a visit to the vet. Should you be worried about anything your dog has consumed over Christmas though be sure to contact your local vet and seek advice immediately.

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