Everyone seems pretty aware that July 4th is not exactly a dog-favorite. But have you thought about the time from Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Year’s? There’s so much going on! There are a lot of possible challenges and stresses for you and your fur friends. We want to help alleviate as much of that as possible with tips and tricks for happy and safe holidays for your dogs.

Naturally, we all want to include our dog family in all of our family fun. From taking pictures to decorating the tree to getting surprises and baking cookies and playing in the snow. This is a time of year for family play and bonding, and of course, we want our dogs there right along side us.

But there are some things to consider and we’ll try to cover as much as possible. If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to get in touch!

First, let’s look at some fun ways to include your dog

  • as we’ve already mentioned, you could include your dog in your holiday portraits. And though sometimes outfits are fun, not all dogs are on board with clothes. Just always consider your dog as the individual they are when you’re planning “fun” activities. Are you going somewhere strange for this where they’ve never been before? Have you chosen a photographer who is comfortable with your type of dog (or better yet, is an animal specific photographer)? Are you including people with whom your dog is not familiar?
  • you could take a night walk somewhere special that’s all lit up. But again, think about the environment — sounds, people, lights — and is this right for your specific dog?
  • you could make doggie specific holiday treats. Look at these great dog cookie recipes here.
  • you could make a doggie specific stocking! For lots of fun ideas, go here.

Now let’s look at making the holidays safe and happy for your dog.

Basic holiday care for your dog

  • remember that your dog is a creature of routines. Try to keep those routines even during this busy and chaotic time of year. Or we should say, especially during this busy and chaotic time of year.
  • consider the dog’s environment: if you’re decorating a lot, things have changed for them. Try to create a space that is still the same and filled with familiar and loved things.
  • if you’re having parties, make sure to have a quiet space off from all of the noise and people and dropped food and drinks left on low surfaces. Create a sort of sanctuary for them that they can retreat to.
  • again, if you’re having a lot of people in your space who aren’t normally there, make sure someone is “in charge of” your dog or dogs. There should be someone designated to keep an eye on them, especially what they’re eating and getting in to.

Your home during the holidays

During the holidays, your house is likely filled with different and new things. Be aware of the following:

  • decorate bit by bit instead of all at once to give your dog time to acclimate to the new interior landscape of his home.
  • try to keep things out of reach. A dog is not only going to investigate your candles and tinsels with their nose and eyes; they might very well taste test, which can mean ruined decorations or even a sick dog.
  • as always, keep any and all chocolate away from your dog, but also be aware of other sweets and new foods that might make for an upset belly (or a vet visit, which none of us ever want but we really don’t want to be running there on Christmas day!).
  • it’s best just to not give in to your dog’s whimpering around food at all. Too much fat and spice can make him feel not so nice. (Excuse my rhyme.)
  • get rid of any bones immediately. Bag them and put them in a can outside. Don’t leave them where someone can go digging.
  • dogs love all the wrapping and boxes, but watch for them eating any of it, especially ribbons. This could cause a blockage.

More Safety Precautions

  • secure your Christmas tree so it can’t be knocked over. And be aware of the tree water if you have a live tree. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • watch out for typical Christmas plants: Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Opt for artificial plants made from silk or plastic or choose a pet-safe bouquet.
  • speaking of candles, don’t leave them lit and unattended.
  • keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth and digestive tract.

If you’re traveling with your dog, make sure you and whomever you’re staying with are clear on needs and boundaries. And if you’re having people into your home for the first time, make sure to ask them if they’re comfortable with dogs. You know how sensitive your fur family is and how quickly¬†they’ll pick up on someone else being nervous around them.

And if after the holidays, you’re noticing some difficult new behaviors, remember to contact us and check out our trainings here.

And may you have happy and safe holidays full of joy and the love of dogs.