21 December 2019

Five things every dog owner should know at Christmas time

Speak to a vet

Claire Smith, Vet

Christmas time is very exciting but can become rather hectic. Whilst we do love fixing pets, we’d much rather your dog got to spend Christmas time at home than at the vets. The last thing that anyone needs on Christmas Day is to deal with a pet emergency; so, we’ve written down some top tips to help avoid such situations and ensure that you dog can enjoy the festive period as much as we do! 

Dog enjoying Christmas after a visit to the vets.
  1. Stress doesn’t help with anything and stressed dogs can be more prone to illness, and possibly even injury. The sudden appearance of flashing lights, singing snowmen and a giant reindeer may be enough to make anyone jump; so, let your dog acclimatise to the new decor, especially if it’s their first Christmas. If your pet doesn’t like loud noises or big groups of people then it is important to ensure they have a snug area they can retreat to for some down time. Party poppers and crackers may also be best avoided if your pet becomes anxious about fireworks.
  2. Christmas time is a wonderful time to meet up with all of your family and friends, who may also own dogs. Sadly, it is not unheard of for a scrap to upset everyone at Christmas and we’re sure that a stitch-up wasn’t on Santa’s wish list. Whenever new dogs meet it is vital that they are watched closely and have enough space to feel comfortable. 
  3. Christmas decorations can pose a hazard in many ways. Firstly, some dogs do love to explore with their mouths and I have seen multiple cases where dogs have accidentally swallowed indigestible items which have then caused an obstruction in the bowel and required surgery. It’s also worth keeping your bin well secured as it’s not uncommon for dogs to steal carcasses and cooked bones which can be very hazardous due to their sharp edges.
  4. Chocolate tends to appear everywhere at Christmas; hanging on the tree and bursting out of presents! Dogs with an appetite for drama may strike at an opportune moment (maybe as Dad falls asleep after Christmas lunch..) to grab some treats. Chocolate by itself can be lethal and at Christmas the risks are even higher with liqueur chocolates on the horizon. Any chocolate ingestion is worth querying with a vet so I’d recommend calling us if you think your dog has managed to gobble some. I wrote about what you should do if you dog eats chocolate on my veterinary blog.
  5. Unfortunately, another toxin we see frequently in the holidays are raisins; lurking everywhere from mince pies and stollen to braised red cabbage and Christmas pudding. The mechanism that underlies raisin toxicity is not fully understood. Not all dogs will show signs of toxicity, whereas others can eat a tiny amount and experience serious consequences. The toxin can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy but some dogs will develop kidney and liver failure. There is no way of telling which dogs will be affected so we recommend precautionary treatment for any dog known to have eaten grapes, raisins, currants or sultanas. If you’re thinking of leaving a mince pie out for Santa, make sure it is well out of the snout zone.
Dog sniffing the Christmas reef at the vets.

If I’m honest, I am much more of a fan of Boxing day! If like me you love getting outdoors in the crisp winter air with some four-legged friends then check out our location pages that detail a few of the lovely dog walks around Sandwich and Deal. If you’ve got a favourite Boxing Day dog walk, please let us know.

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