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A Dog Owner's Guide to a Safe Christmas: Understanding and Mitigating Festive Hazards

A Dog Owner's Guide to a Safe Christmas: Understanding and Mitigating Festive Hazards

A Dog Owner's Guide to a Safe Christmas: Understanding and Mitigating Festive Hazards

As Christmas approaches, it’s important for dog owners to be aware of the hidden dangers this festive season can bring to our four-legged friends. This blog offers a comprehensive guide of what to watch out for to ensure your dog's safety during the festive period. 

1. Hazardous Christmas Foods

Understanding what foods are harmful to dogs is crucial during a season filled with tempting treats. Here’s a breakdown of foods to avoid and the potential harm they can cause:

  • Chocolate (including cocoa, cooking chocolate, and dark chocolate): Contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, heart problems, and seizures.

  • Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies: These contain raisins and sultanas, which are highly toxic to dogs and can lead to kidney failure.

  • Onions, Leeks, Shallots, and Chives: Can cause gastrointestinal irritation and potentially lead to red blood cell damage and anaemia.

  • Alcohol: Even small amounts can lead to ethanol poisoning in dogs, causing vomiting, diarrhoea, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma, and even death.

  • Macadamia Nuts:  These are dangerous to dogs due to a currently unidentified toxic compound they contain that affects a dog’s nervous system. It can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia in dogs.

  • Sweets containing Xylitol (e.g., sugar-free gum): Xylitol can cause insulin release leading to liver failure and hypoglycaemia (lowered sugar levels).

2. Decorations and Plant Dangers

Decorations and festive plants can pose risks to curious dogs. Here are some common hazards:

  • Christmas Trees (Pine, Fir, Spruce): Their needles can cause gastrointestinal irritation and obstruction if ingested.

  • Tinsel and Ornaments: These can lead to choking or intestinal blockage if swallowed.

  • Poinsettias, Holly, and Mistletoe: These plants are mild to moderately toxic and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and, in severe cases, heart problems in pets.

3. Gift Wrapping Hazards

Gifts and wrapping materials can also be hazardous:

  • Ribbons and Strings: Pose a choking hazard or can cause intestinal blockages if ingested.

  • Batteries: If chewed or swallowed, they can lead to chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning.

4. Reducing Stress for Your Dog

The holiday hustle and bustle can be overwhelming for dogs. Here are some tips to keep them calm:

  • Create a Safe Space: A quiet area away from the noise where your dog can take themselves to relax. Ensure your dog is not disturbed when in this safe space such as a crate or upstairs away from all the activity. Don’t allow little ones to follow them. 
  • Maintain Routine: Stick to their regular feeding and walking schedule as much as possible. Don’t feed too many treats or rich, salty titbits from your own plate. 

5. Ensuring Your Dog's Safety

Finally, some general tips to ensure a safe Christmas for your dog:

  • Avoid too much stimulation, change of routine and too many extra treats.  These can cause discomfort and stress for some dogs.
  • Monitor Your Dog: Always keep an eye on your pet to prevent any mishaps with food or decorations. Especially around leftover food or cooked bones that may be left.
  • Advocate for your dog - recognise when their body language shows they are uncomfortable, tired or anxious. Just because we want our dogs to be sociable doesn’t mean they want to be. Kenzo for instance would not settle in a busy pub - whilst Skye is in her element surrounded by people giving her attention.  Always ensure your dog has a choice to leave a situation they are not happy with. 

Following these guidelines can help ensure your Christmas celebrations are enjoyable and safe for your furry family member.

Feel free to share this graphic which is on the social media pages to raise awareness.