Anyone who has ever had a dog has had a ruined Christmas.
Well, maybe not a ruined Christmas, but a substantially altered Christmas. Or maybe it wasn’t Christmas, but a New Year’s Eve of canine debauchery when guests fed your pooch every appetiser in sight. Or an Easter when the dog found the chocolate bunnies. Or the Fourth of July interrupted by a fireworks-panicked pup.
In order to keep the festive season merry and bright for you and your pet - but not the veterinarian - here are 10 tips to thwart any holiday mishaps.
10. The Christmas Tree
Maybe your dog is oblivious to the newly acquired greenery that has sprouted inside the house, complete with twinkling lights (what tempting things to nibble!) and ornaments that are ever so much fun to paw at. But chances are, the younger your dog, the more likely it will take a shine to your Christmas tree and everything on it.
Unless you want to be visiting your friendly veterinarian, keep your dog well away from the tree at all times. In addition to chewable lights and other sharp, breakable bits, a big enough dog can fell a tree as well as any lumberjack. Cue mayhem and panic and a ruined Christmas.
The same goes for any kind of food-as-tree-decorations and especially tinsel
, which is a very bad idea indeed. And not just because it could cause your dog some serious abdominal problems: even if your dog avoids it, you’re still going to be tidying up shimmery strands of the stuff for months to come.
9. Other Festive Plants
Despite what your mother always told you, those Christmassy poinsettia plants
are not actually the deadly demons they’ve been made out to be. They got a bad rap more than a century ago, when the first urban legend was born.
However, the equally seasonal mistletoe and holly berries are bad news for man and beast. Or rather child and pet, since even most men probably know better than to go sampling something that has sprouted out of bird poop
. These berries are toxic, so don’t let your pooch give them a smooch, or even a sniff.
All those snowmen and Santas dotted around your house sure are cute. Hope the dog doesn’t think so, too. Nothing says ruined Christmas like a shredded Santa and eight eaten reindeer; however they reappear, it won’t make for a festive sight.
You’ve gone to all the effort to find those speciality paper bags, fill the bottoms with sand, light a little tea light inside and line them up along your front walk. Don’t they look pretty! So pretty, in fact, that not only your dog but any passing hound is likely to take a shine to them, laying waste to all your hard work. You’ll be lucky if they just extinguish the flames and don’t accidentally burn a paw or singe some fur.
Worse yet are any open flames inside the house. Your dog probably won’t even notice them, which is why an accidental swipe with the tail could cause trouble untold. If you’re going to get your festive glow on, make sure it’s only with candles that are well away from a curious or careless dog.
Is it going overboard to suggest you shouldn’t leave presents wrapped under the tree in case your dog slips in under cover of darkness and tears into them like, well, a kid on Christmas morning? Probably. Unless hiding among the ribbons and bows is something delicious your dog can smell. Or if you have a Labrador, the worst offenders when it comes to eating things they’re not supposed to.
Even without the temptation of delicious aromas, all the wrapping paper might prove tempting, especially to a mischievous puppy. But packaging and paper and all that goes with them are a sure way to ruin Christmas for any dog silly enough to eat them.
With visitors comes food. Food dropped on the floor. Food set down when people are coming through the door dispensing kisses and gifts. Food intentionally given to your dog by folks who are well-meaning but unaware of the digestive havoc in store if it’s something on the canine no-no list
. Which is a lot.
Most of us know chocolate is off-limits for dogs, but there are lots of seemingly harmless “people” foods that are no good for your pets, and a lot of these feature high among the most popular Christmas foods: cooked poultry; raw or cooked onions, garlic, sage and nutmeg; dough or uncooked cake batter; potatoes; grapes and raisins; nuts; foods with artificial sweeteners, such as sugar-free chewing gum.
Stick to your dog’s regular diet
and gently but firmly insist that any visitors do, too. Your dog really will not thank you for a Christmas dinner fit for your family.
Well this is just one of those “No, duh” reminders, isn’t it? Animals and alcohol
don’t mix. Again, don’t let some intoxicated idiot pour a beer for your dog, who will love it. Likewise, watch out for spilled drinks or glasses that could get knocked over.
3. Delivery People
Lots of strange people come knocking on the door at this time of year. Delivery people. Carol singers. Men in red coats and hats with long white beards.
Your dog may find it distressing to have unfamiliar folks turning up throughout the holidays, so be sure to keep him or her in a secure space where they’ll feel safe and content.
That goes for people you do know who are turning up all hours, demanding Bing Crosby and a cup of festive cheer.
Just because you can almost tolerate your belligerent Uncle Harold doesn’t mean your dog will be so diplomatic. And while it might not exactly ruin your Christmas to see a particularly noxious inlaw suffer a flesh wound at the jaws of your otherwise docile Basset Hound, it’s likely to cause some tense moments as you linger over whether to intervene.
Lots of company can make a dog feel stressed and on edge, especially if there are noisy or unpredictable small children around. Do the best thing for everyone and keep a quiet, dedicated spot easily accessible for your dog to retreat to when your house gets busy.
1. A Lump Of Coal
You didn’t think you could leave your beloved dog out of Christmas, did you?
Just think how forlorn your loyal friend would feel if you didn’t so much as buy him or her a new bone, some treats, a toy or even a new bed.