Well the season of goodwill is nearly upon us and being the loving dog owners that I am sure you all are, you will want to involve your dogs in as much as possible but the Queen song springs to mind here – ‘Too much love can kill you just the same as none at all!’ It is very important that your dog’s routine changes as little as possible over the festive period helping them to avoid getting over excited or anxious.
Before we actually get to the holiday season, we have the build up and some important things to remember!
Our dogs are likely to be exposed to new hazards during the festive season. They may well be intrigued by the new smells, sites and tastes. Here are some things that can cause problems for our dogs.
The Christmas Tree
When putting up decorations and a tree, watch out for any trailing wires, lights and effects hanging off trees. Along with tinsel, ornaments, ribbons etc. all look like very interesting chew toys to dogs, which can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, an obstruction and damage to the intestines if eaten. Decorative lights can cause electrical shocks if chewed on.
If you have a real tree be especially careful with the pine needles, these can get stuck in their paws and can be dangerous if eaten. It is best to keep your dog away and to vacuum frequently and don’t forget those waggy tails causing havoc around the tree, real or not.
If you add any chemicals to the water for your tree to help it last longer, please make sure your dog does not have access to drink the water.
Wherever possible try and keep your dog away from the tree or place the tree where your dog cannot get to it directly, preventing your tree from being horizontal rather than vertical.
As well as the tree, seasonal plants such as holly, mistletoe, poinsettias and potpourri should be out of reach of your dog as they can be toxic.
Poinsettias contain a milky sap that can irritate your dogs mouth and if rubbed in the eyes can cause blindness. Also may see diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, dermatitis and delirium. If you are concerned speak to your Vet for advice.
Mistletoe is very toxic causing vomiting, severe diarrhoea, difficulty in breathing, shock and death within hours of being eaten. Contact your Vet immediately if your dog eats any part of the plant.
Holly can cause vomiting, stomach aches and diarrhoea, tremors, loss of balance and seizures. If you are concerned speak to your Vet for advice.
Lit candles can also be a big hazard, make sure no lit candles are within reach of your dog or its tail.
Come the big day it is too easy to overindulge for all of us and the same goes for our dogs, make sure you do not overfeed your dog especially with rich foods and things they have not had before. Also keep an eye on those visitors! Ask them not to feed your dog if necessary.
Especially avoid mince pies and christmas pudding as the raisins and grapes can be poisonous to dogs. Avoid feeding any stuffing, as onions and garlic are also poisonous.
No matter how tempting it is DO NOT feed them anything cooked with bones in, as this can lead to intestinal obstructions and a christmas trip to the Vets.
Chocolate is a definite no-no, theobromine in chocolate is what makes it toxic to dogs. The toxicity of the chocolate depends on the type and amount of chocolate eaten, however it is safer to make sure your dog is not able to indulge in even a small amount.
Signs which may appear within 1 – 4 hours after eating chocolate:
- Increased thirst
- Difficulty keeping balance
- Muscle spasms, seizures, coma
- Death from an abnormal heart rhythm
If for any reason your dog does eat some chocolate contact your Vet as soon as possible for advice.
Other foods to be aware of include:
Macadamia nuts within a few hours can cause your dog to be wobbly on their feet, depressed, vomiting, muscle tremors, hyperthermia, weakness and an increased heart rate and if eaten with chocolate kidney failure may be seen.
Take care with fruits that contain stones e.g. peaches and plums, you do not want your dog to get an obstruction.
Caffeine can cause mild to severe hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, increased haert rate, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, hyperthermia, seizures, and collapse within 1-2 hours.
Xylitol an artificial sweetener found in chewing gum, some sweets, human toothpaste, mouthwashes and diabetic foods causes a rapid release of the hormone insulin, resulting in a sudden decrease in blood glucose. Signs of illness can occur within 30 minutes and include:
- Uncoordinated movements
- Hypokalemia (a decrease in potassium in the body)
- Liver dysfunction and/or failure
Great for play……………not really!
Wrapping paper and accessories look like great play toys to your dog. However they can prove dangerous and result in a visit to your Vets. Make sure it all gets thrown straight into the bin.
Also any presents you don’t wish your dog to help themselves to should be kept out of their reach. Have you bought them their christmas present yet? There are some great things out there, do make sure whatever you treat them to is safe for them.
Time to party………….
If you are having a house full of guests plan ahead, make sure your dog has had plenty of exercise beforehand, and once they have said hello to everyone have a place set up where your dog can go and retreat for some peace and quiet.
If your dog is used to a peaceful existence it will be thankful of this place and can be settled down with a favourite chew or a stuffed kong.
If your dog is used to visitors you will still need to keep an eye on their behaviour, making sure they do not get too excited by all the fun and games and remember NEVER leave your dog alone with babies and children.
It is important to know your dog and understand what they can and cannot cope with, if they are likely to get over excited or frightened by unusual noises, childrens toys, party bangers, video games, a slightly drunk Auntie and Uncle, put them somewhere they will feel more comfortable (the dog, not Auntie and Uncle). If your dog has a noise phobia, even pulling christmas crackers could spook them.
It’s chilly out there………….
Along with Christmas comes the cold weather, unless you are reading this in the Southern Hemisphere, it is important to protect your dog from the cold.
Their bed should be away from draughts, in a warm quiet area.
With some breeds they may need a coat when out for a walk to protect against the cold, there are some great designs available out there!
Take care when taking your dog out from a warm house to the cold outside. An abrupt change in temperature can increase the risk of some infectious diseases.
Whilst out walking keep them away from cold or frozen water, no matter how deep or shallow it looks.
If there is snow or ice outside, wipe their paws and underside when you get back inside, making sure there are no clumps of ice or snow stuck between theie toes or on the soles of their feet.
We wear shoes, you may want to think about boots for your dog too, their feet need to be protected from the salt used to melt ice. Dog boots or rinsing their feet when they get home can help to protect their feet from this. Also if they lick the salt off their feet, this can cause inflammation of their digestive tract.
If you have an elderly, arthritic dog be aware that when they are outside, they can become stiff and tender quickly and may find it difficult to move about in the snow or ice.
Dogs are attracted to the sweet smell of anti freeze – obviously it is dangerous to them as it is to us, make sure it is never within reach of them. If your dog drinks the anti freeze kidney failure can occur which is often fatal in a few days.
We wish you a great, fun packed, incident free Christmas and a prosperous New Year.