10 TIPS FOR A STRESS FREE CHRISTMAS
Well Christmas is nearly here! This year many of us are looking forward to welcoming family and friends to our houses for what seems like the first time in ages.
Whilst we enjoy the Christmas festivities, eating, drinking and being merry, spare a thought for the four-legged family members, by putting some preparation and management in place, well in advance, you could save yourself a lot of frayed nerves or doggy emergencies around the Christmas holiday.
There is lots of great information readily available about hazards to avoid with regard to food and poisonous plants. The link below to The Kennel Club’s page is a good reference source, it also gives advice on what to do if your dog has eaten something he shouldn’t and what information your Vet will need.
Maybe this is your dog’s first Christmas or the first time in a while with lots of visitors, it can be busy, exciting and exhausting! To make sure your dog also enjoys his Christmas, here are a few other things to consider to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
BEFORE THE DAY – PLAN AHEAD
1. Medication – Dog Food and Emergency Contact for Vet
If your dog takes regular medication make sure you have good supplies to last well in to the New Year, that goes for your dog food too. Know how to contact your Vet in the case of an emergency and where you would have to take him if he was taken unwell outside of normal opening hours.
2. Going Away?
Are you able to give your dog a practice run if you are visiting someone else? This can help to iron out problems and get them used to the environment. Take your dog’s bed and familiar items with you and a crate or pen if they use one. Check out the local Veterinary facilities and have one on speed dial in case of emergency, if your dog has specific needs consider taking a copy of his local Vet notes so that if an emergency happens you have everything to hand.
If you are going away make sure your dog’s microchip information is up to date. You can do this by accessing your client portal on the website of your microchip provider or by telephoning customer services.
Log the temporary address your dog will be residing at so that if he becomes lost you can be reunited quickly. Make sure any health issues and medication doses are recorded and current.
Check your dog’s identification tag – is it current and able to be clearly seen?
How did your dog cope with the fireworks? If he struggled, be prepared in advance, remember to stock up on anything your dog finds useful, because the likelihood is New Year will see more fireworks. More information on dogs and fireworks can be found here.
Dog Proof Your House As Much As Possible
5. Out of Reach
Make sure your dog does not have access to presents, the Christmas tree, Christmas decorations and Christmas lights. Presents may contain small parts, batteries, wrapping and hazardous material which, if ingested, could warrant an emergency trip to the Vets and your dog being really unwell.
Make sure there are no chocolates or sweets on the tree and that baubles, tinsel and lights are well out of reach. If necessary, block access to the tree by using a puppy pen or child’s playpen.
6. Alone Time
Your dog will need his own space that he can retreat to for some ‘alone’ time during the festivities. Maybe a quiet room in the house or in a bedroom so that he can rest and sleep. Over tired dogs can become fractious or hyperactive. If this space is different to where he usually relaxes do several practice runs so that the new space is familiar. If you know your dog is safe to be left with interactive food games then provide these – licking, chewing and sniffing is a great way to lower anxiety.
ON THE DAY
7. Keeping Everyone Safe
If your dog isn’t used to children or visitors do not allow them alone together. Well-meaning people who are excited are unpredictable, loud and can be frightening to dogs. No-one wants a bite to happen, be an advocate for your dog and allow him to retreat to his safe space and make sure no one disturbs him.
8. Keep Your Dog’s Routine The Same
As much as possible keep your dog’s routine the same. Take him for a relaxing, sniffy walk before visitors arrive so that he will be as calm as possible for the day ahead.
Keep feeding schedules the same and stick to his usual food. It is tempting to plate up an extra dinner for your dog but rich, unusual food can be disastrous to the digestion which could end up with you having vomiting and diarrhoea to attend to or a Vet visit!
Many of our human Christmas foods are poisonous to dogs – make sure you remind yourself of what they are – follow the KC link above. Be safe, feed them as normal.
We all love to buy our dog’s presents and Christmas is a great time to spoil them. Please be aware that some treats and toys are poor quality and could end up spoiling your day. Good quality natural chews and treats are great for your dog and appropriate, interactive games and food toys provide enrichment and a good brain work out. Make sure the game isn’t too hard for them – if it is too difficult, they will either walk away or destroy it through frustration. The trick is to start easy – help your dog if he is struggling and build up the difficulty – you will have an Einstein in no time!
10. Rest and Recuperation
Take some time to relax with your dog after Christmas when everyone has gone home. It can take several days for your dog’s adrenaline levels to return to normal if it has been a very exciting time. Low excitement, sniffy walks and cuddles by the fire are great as a reset.