It’s officially countdown time. Present shopping, wrapping and food preparation are (hopefully) well underway. Apart from helpfully getting paws tied up in ribbon just as you’re face deep in a crucial sellotape situation, your dog is sure to be buzzing with excitement at the hive of activity. In between the needs of kids, awkward family members and numerous friends that need attending to it’s easy to forget there are furry friends that will be eagerly (too eagerly perhaps) joining in on the celebrations. Are you ready for a Dog Christmas?
Here are some things to remember:
1. Deck The Halls (Not the Dog)
You’ve placed the last bauble in just the right spot. You’ve done it, you have achieved perfection. Kirsty Allsop has nothing on you. Smugly you step back to admire your handiwork. Perhaps this is a new career. Maybe that interiors magazine will hear about your festive finesse and give you a call. Yes, you are a domestic god(dess). And then comes Alfie, full speed and with all the excitement of a toddler who’s stuffed full of an oversized selection box. What’s this? What can I eat? Ooh shiny. Within seconds your masterpiece is more pitiful than perfection and as baubles, tinsel and lights lay strewn on the floor, all hell breaks loose as you try to stop four bouncing paws from doing some serious damage to themselves. Before you can shout “Leave”, Alfie’s tearing outside with his new “ball” for a patio parade and you’re weeping into your gingerbread latte.
Be mindful where you place your tree, especially if your dog is prone to jumping up, and what decorations are accessible to soft mouths and paws. Low-shed trees will stop ouchy pine needles getting caught in fur and keeping wires from lights tidied away will prevent a nasty accident from occurring.
2. Nom Nom Nom and On and On
Now, no judgment here, we too will be indulging somewhat at Christmas. All that food and the occasional (ahem) tipple are just too good to resist. It’s Christmas! Time to spoil ourselves. But whilst we will most likely suffer no more than a little tummyache from over-indulgence, dogs can become extremely poorly if they’re given too much, or too rich, food. Stick to their usual diet, and if you’d like to include them in a delicious dog Christmas dinner we recommend keeping the portion small, avoiding any cooked bones, herbs, spices, stuffing, onion and garlic and using low-sodium gravy. Keeping them to their regular exercise routine will also help them keep trim and avoid the inevitable post-chrimbo bloat we hoomans will be feeling come Boxing Day.
3. Fur the Love of Chocolate
Labs, spaniels, cockapoos we love our Chocolate dogs. But fur is as far as the connection should go. Chocolate + Dogs does not a happy dog Christmas make! Containing a chemical called Theobromine, chocolate can be fatal even in small doses. Keep chocolate boxes, calendars, coins firmly out of reach to avoid a disastrous dog Christmas.
4. Stress Less
Whilst you love to gather all your lovely friends, Uncle Bob, Auntie Mabel and the Stevensons from number 12 together at yuletide, your dog may hold a differing opinion about your company choices descending on his home. Dogs can be overwhelmed with people coming in and out, especially as the flurry of activity can often bring excited squeezes, overzealous patting and an unfortunate tail pull here and there. Give your dog somewhere peaceful to retire from the carnage Christmas brings. Watch for signs of dog distress; excessive panting, yawning, lip-licking and aggressive behaviour and remove your dog instantly if you notice any of these changes. After all, with that super sensitive hearing, they probably find Auntie Mabel’s wittering even more annoying than you do.
5. Treat Them Well
Yes, we do have to be careful with the additional mania and paraphernalia that Christmas brings with it but we don’t want to lose sight of what a wonderful time of year it is. Nor how much additional love and fun that’s had because your dog is there to share it with you. So when all the preparations are done as Christmas Eve arrives; as you put up the stockings, lay a plate with mince pies and carrots, remember, there is one more little face that is a joy to light up on Christmas morning. Slip a special dog treat in their stocking to show them how very much they are loved.