Tis’ the season to ensure that our pups have a joyous holiday with no ER visits.
The following is a list of the holiday mishaps most common throughout the festive season, that we can prepare for and protect against to keep our wiggle butts safe and happy.
Christmas brings with it an assortment of tasty treats for us, but sadly these are often not suitable for dogs and in some cases can even be fatal. With so much going on over the festive season, this can often be an ideal time for your dog to try and sneak a taste of some food while their owner’s back is turned, so try and keep any chocolate, raisins, grapes, mince pies and other snacks, including advent calendars and edible tree decorations, out of paw’s reach.
In addition, even foods that you might consider to be suitable for your pet should also be approached with caution. Christmas dinner leftovers, such as turkey, chicken and goose bones can easily splinter, especially when cooked, causing an obstruction and even piercing your dog’s stomach. Be careful of stuffing too – onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives all belong to the allium family and all contain a substance that can damage a dog’s red blood cells, causing potentially life-threatening anemia. If you think your dog may have eaten something that they shouldn’t, or they have symptoms including sickness and diarrhea, speak to your vet urgently.
While we may not consider Christmas decorations, plants and presents to be edible, this is not the case for our dogs, who find these just as intriguing and exciting as the festive food. Be careful with certain festive plants – poinsettia, holly, mistletoe and ivy can cause varying degrees of stomach upset if eaten by a curious dog. Be aware of your dog stealing gifts that aren’t for them from under the tree. Electronic gifts and toys often contain batteries, which if chewed or swallowed by a dog can be dangerous. Similarly, watch out for your dog trying to eat small toys or gifts with small parts, wrapping paper or crepe paper, Christmas decorations, including baubles and tinsel hanging from the Christmas tree, and plastic materials used for wrapping presents. Some of these can have sharp edges, so they can be especially harmful if swallowed, while others may cause a dangerous blockage in the gut.
With the onset of the festive season, comes colder weather, bringing with it a number of seasonal dangers for our dogs including being more susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite when out on winter walks. Care should also be taken when using antifreeze products that contain chemicals that can be deadly when licked or drunk by dogs. The sweet taste of antifreeze makes it tempting for dogs, so products should be stored in secure containers away from pets. Watch out too for dogs drinking out of puddles when it’s very cold, as the water can sometimes be tainted with antifreeze chemicals. Antifreeze is dangerously toxic to dogs and any ingestion should be considered a veterinarian emergency.
Dogs can have a lot to deal with over the Christmas period – excited and noisy children, crackers banging, presents being unwrapped and unfamiliar people, voices and smells. It can be overwhelming so avoid forcing festive fun by making sure their routine isn’t disrupted – take them out on their usual walks and keep dinner time the same – and make sure they still have their usual space and bed so they can retreat and settle in their usual spot if and when they want to. Everyone is busy at Christmas with many spending more time away from home, but don’t forget about your four-legged friend or leave them alone for more than four hours. If you’re spending Christmas day with friends or family and your dog is coming with you, take something that smells familiar, like their bed, to help them feel secure. Take some of their favorite toys and chews to help keep them entertained.
Despite how fancy rawhides can be packaged, they are not good for our four legged friends, as they do not digest properly in the stomach.
Here is a list of healthy alternatives to rawhides:
1) Carrots – While baby carrots can make a great, healthy dog treat on the go, large, full-size carrots can be a wonderful choice when your dog needs to chew. Carrots are not only nutrient-rich, they are also low in calories, which makes them a great choice, even for dogs who could stand to lose a pound or two.
2) Bully sticks – Bully sticks are a favorite among dog owners because they don’t contain any chemical additives or preservatives. Bully sticks can also last a long time, but one downside is that many of them have a strong odor.
3) Antlers – Antlers from either deer or elk are good sources of zinc, calcium, potassium and manganese, and they aren’t stinky or greasy like many other dog chews. However, there is a downside to antlers. They are incredibly hard, and if your dog chews too aggressively, they could end up fracturing a tooth. Elk antlers are a little safer than deer antlers, but regardless of which antlers you choose, watch your dog very closely when they chew them.
4) Salmon Skin Bones – Salmon skin bones are exactly what they sound like, bones made of salmon skin! These bones are great for dogs who have allergies or sensitivities to other proteins, as well as for dogs who are picky about vegetables. These treats are wonderful for your dog’s coat, but don’t leave your dog alone with one. They are jerky, and if your dog swallows a piece instead of chewing it, it could create a choking hazard.
5) Yak Cheese Sticks – Yak cheese dog chews are all-natural products made from Himalayan yak milk and are rich in nutrients like protein, and calcium and are low in fat. Once they get chewed down to a size that may become a choking hazard, you can soak them in water and microwave for a soft cheese puff treat so that no product gets wasted. And your four legged friends can enjoy their treat, down to the last bite.
As you can see, there are many rawhide alternatives available for dogs, but it’s important to note that there’s no such thing as a perfectly safe treat for chewing. Any time your dog is chewing on any treat, make sure that you are watching them. Untreated blockages can be fatal, and just because your dog is chewing a rawhide alternative, it doesn’t mean that there is no risk for choking.
Pet care over Christmas
- Keep the number of an emergency vet on hand in case of accidents or if your pet eats something they shouldn’t.
- If your pet is on medication, stock up before the holidays so you don’t get caught out.
· If you’re going away over Christmas, be sure to make plans for your pets – whether they’re coming with you or not.