Tips to keep your dog safe at Christmas.
Most of us enjoy Christmas, and view it as an excuse for over-indulgence. After all, if you can't have a good time at Christmas, then when can you? And of course the family dog is included in this.
At our house the family sit together around the christmas tree, festive plants and warm fire as the well wrapped presents are opened. This is done while we perhaps enjoy a festive drink - champagne, wine etc. - some 'pigs in blankets' and the bacon from the top of the turkey. After dinner we crash out together and find some impossible little corner in our tummies to fit in some chocolates, nuts and perhaps a little alcohol. Then at tea time we enjoy a bit more turkey and ham, followed by a rich fruit Christmas cake - then more chocolate and liquid goodies. Perfect!
Of course our dogs are there with us - ever curious and full of fun. We certainly don't want them to miss out.
But hopefully we don't put our dogs in danger. Like all good parents we try to never lose sight of our responsibilities.
But what are those responsibilities? Here we look at some of the more common dangers for dogs at Christmas - and many of them have already been listed above!
Which Christmas foods and drink are dangerous to your dog?
Please bear in mind that giving your dog lots of new food (any new food) can cause vomiting and diarrhoea so please be careful. However, there are some foods which are particularly relevant around Christmas.
Dogs and chocolate.
There are many proprietory brands of chocolate specially formulated and labelled for your dog to enjoy. Keep to these!
Chocolate intended for human consumption should be kept away from your dog at all costs. Even small amounts can make them feel sick. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and the darker the chocolate, the worse it is. Chocolate liqueurs are particularly dangerous.
Chocolate can cause your dog to suffer from agitation, excessive excitability, tremors, convulsions and problems with the heart.
Do not keep chocolate presents under the christmas tree or anywhere else your dog may discover, and seek your vet's advice / treatment immediately if you think there is a problem. It's better to be safe than sorry.
A sugar-free sweetener called xylitol is often found in the sweets popular at Christmas, as well as chewing gums, mouthwashes, toothpastes and supplements. It is poisonous to dogs so get into the habit of checking the label.
Alcohol - a christmas tipple..
Many of us enjoy our seasonal tipple, but too much of it can make us ill. Very ill!
Your dog is no different, and of course he is completely unawares and unused to the effects.
Unattended or discarded alcohol glasses can be very attractive to the curious dog, so be careful. Just like us your dog can suffer from bad reactions - they can become wobbly and drowsy and in severe cases there is a risk of low body temperature, low blood sugar and coma.
You can buy things such as doggy beer or pawsecco - if you want your dog to join in then keep it safe with products such as these. Pre planning is the key.
Nuts and dogs
Dogs can have some nuts, preferably fresh and unsalted, and nuts that are OK for dogs to eat include peanuts, almonds and cashews. However, the high fat content in nuts can cause vomiting and diarrhea, so watch the quantity!
But there are some nuts which should be avoided - particularly macadamia nuts or black walnuts as these can cause lethargy, increased body temperature, tremor, lameness and stiffness. Most peanut butters should be avoided, and please don't even think of chocolate covered nuts!
Mince Pies and Christmas Puddings.
Grapes are toxic to dogs and can cause severe kidney failure. This includes currants, raisins, sultanas and the dried fruits contained in Christmas puddings and mince pies. Even small amounts are dangerous - be aware.
The good news is that dogs can eat dates - but as with everything - in moderation.
Onions and similar foods.
Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives all belong to the Allium species of plants and can cause toxicity, whether uncooked or cooked. Initially there can be vomiting and diarrhoea but the main effect is damage to red blood cells, resulting in anaemia. This may not be apparent for several days after ingestion.
Christmas trees and plants.
The pine needles from a Christmas tree can cause a mild tummy upset, but the bigger danger is that the sharp needles cause internal damage. Hoover up regularly.
Poinsettia is popular at Christmas, but it can cause vomiting and irritation to the mouth and stomach.
Holly, ivy and mistletoe can cause mild tummy upsets in dogs if eaten, but the bigger danger is from the berries. Keep well away from the American poison ivy and American mistletoe which can be dangerous.
Decorations and wrapping paper.
Generally these are of low toxicity to dogs, but can cause trouble and blockages if eaten in large amounts, so watch out for this obvious danger.
Candles, although generally of low toxicity can cause choking and blockages.
When eaten, potpourri can cause significant gastrointestinal effects in dogs. These effects may last several days even after the material has passed through.
Dogs can have allergies.
Of course dogs can have allergies, so please bear this in mind over the festive season. The most common allergens are beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit, and fish. Especially at Christmas some nuts can be added to that list. Most dogs are usually allergic to more than one thing, so be particularly vigilant during these times of indulgence.
So what can I feed my dog at Christmas?
Well, your local pet shop's shelves will be groaning under the weight of Christmas treats for your dog, so take full advantage of that!
Obviously, you can feed some leftovers from your Christmas table - assuming your dog is not allergic to them, and these include :-
Turkey meat (no skin or bones), Salmon (fillets or cooked in spring water are preferable to smoked salmon), Lamb meat (no bones), Scrambled egg, Green beans, Brussel sprouts, Parsnips, Carrots, Peas, Swede, Mash potato (best without additional butter), New potatoes, Sweet potatoes, Yogurt (but check the ingredients and don’t feed if xylitol is listed as this is toxic to dogs).
Give your dog a safe refuge!
All the excitement may get a bit much for your dog, especially if your house is full of visitors and merriment.
Make sure your dog has somewhere safe and quiet to retreat to, whether it be a bed, and open dog crate or a quiet room.
Provide familiar toys and chews. Not everyone may enjoy the novelty of Christmas as much as you, and we all enjoy 40 winks at times.
This is not a veterinary website, and all recommendations are given in good faith. Please check with your vet if you are concerned about any aspect.
Much of the above information is drawn from the recommendations of the Blue Cross animal charity, and we recommend that you go to their website, check with the Kennel Club by clicking HERE, or 'Google' dogs at christmas to get more information.
Have a great Christmas and New Year with your dog.