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How to celebrate a safe Christmas with your dog

Christmas is a cozy time with decorations, candles and plants - but it can also involve a lot of risks for your dog. Here we share our best tips on how to avoid the dangers of Christmas and what to do if an accident does happen!

This article was written by a FirstVet vet


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Prepare well in advance

During Christmas, many families have more things at home, such as Christmas decorations, candles and plants, but also more food and goodies than usual. Here we give some tips on what your canine friend should avoid, as well as what can be good to have at home to be prepared!


Update your pet’s medicine box

Feel free to check your dog’s home pharmacy before Christmas. If your dog gets a stomach upset, you may wish to have some pre-prepared highly digestible food, electrolyte supplements and probiotics, at home. These are available from your vet or at a pet pharmacy.

Read more: Medicine cabinet for dogs and cats


Do not leave dangerous temptations around

Remember not to leave food, sweets, candles or presents, ribbons or batteries lying around where inquisitive dogs can find them. You may wish to inform guests and teach children in advance that certain types of food and items can be dangerous to dogs, to help avoid accidents.


Register your pet with FirstVet

Register and add your animal to your FirstVet app (iPhone, android, tablet or web app) so that you have quick and easy access to an experienced vet 24/7 and 365 days a year - even throughout Christmas and New Year.


Simple tricks to keep your dog entertained and relaxed

  • Exercise: ensure that your dog gets out for a walk twice each day. In adverse weather, try to play games with your dog indoors instead. This can reduce the likelihood of them investigating the Christmas tree, for example, and getting into trouble
  • Food toys and treats: try serving your dog’s food in an interactive toy, such as a KONG, puzzle ball or snuffle mat, to provide mental stimulation and keep them occupied for longer
  • Personal space: when having guests at home, if your dog gets stressed, ensure that they have a quiet place to go that is easily accessible

Tip! If you know that your dog gets stressed by new people, try using an Adaptil pheromone diffuser. Spray and plug-in diffuser options are available, as well as other aids, such as nutraceuticals (Zylkene). Start using them a few days before you plan to have visitors.


Common poisonings during Christmas

Christmas food

Christmas food often has a high fat and/or salt content, and is rarely suitable to share with our dogs. If a dog gets leftover food that is very fatty or salty, there is a risk of a stomach upset, with vomiting and diarrhoea, or pancreatitis, which is a painful and dangerous condition. Blue cheese may smell delicious for dogs but it contains roquefortine C, which is made by a fungus that is used during production. If ingested, it can lead to tremors and seizures for up to 48 hours. Many Christmas foods also contain onions and garlic, such as traditional stuffing or chutney, which can lead to anaemia in dogs and cats.

In a nutshell, many nuts are hazardous to dogs. They can cause a blockage in the intestine if swallowed. Walnuts are susceptible to mycotoxin contamination, which can cause seizures, tremors or other neurological symptoms. The mechanism of macadamia nut toxicity is not known, but ingestion can also cause tremors, vomiting diarrhoea and weakness.

Chocolate

Chocolate can cause major problems for dogs, including the risk of a stomach upset, salivation, an irregular heart rhythm and, in the worst case, life-threatening heart problems, coma or seizures. If you are unsure whether your dog has eaten chocolate, or how much they have eaten, you should always contact a vet for emergency advice.

Plants

Dogs may want to investigate indoor plants. Several of the plants that you may have at home at Christmas are toxic to dogs. If you notice that your dog is interested in a certain plant, it may be wise to move the plant to a dog-proof place, or remove the plant altogether. Make sure that suspected poisonous plants, as well as cut flowers, are placed where dogs cannot reach them. Plants that can cause poisoning include: lilies, amaryllis, Christmas rose and poinsettia.

Read our full article here: 9 dangerous temptations for your pet during Christmas


When to contact a vet?

  • If you think your dog has eaten, or come into contact with, any of the food or items above, please seek veterinary advice

Book a video appointment to have a chat with one of our FirstVet vets, or contact your registered vet to make an emergency appointment.

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