Festive fun and frolics are just around the corner. A wonderful time for fun, friends, families, and festivities. For our canine companions, the festive season can also be a time full of games, presents and activity. For other dogs, it might be a chance for some rest and relaxation.
Whatever you get up to however, it should be safe. Despite the often-romanticised image of the festive season, for our dogs, there are some inherent challenges and potential hazards that we should be alert to. Indeed, vets often report that the holiday season can be one of the busiest times of the year.
Here is the Science Supplements essential guide to making the holidays happy for both you and your dog.
Whether you are staying at home, travelling to visit or stay with friends and family, or having people visit you, a bit of planning and pre-preparation can help. This might be preparing a safe, calm, and quiet place away from the festivities for your dog – especially important for worried dogs who might be fearful or anxious about unusual noises, people or comings and goings. A quiet spare room, a covered crate or even a quiet kennel if your dog is used to spending some time in one can be a real refuge for them, away from the hustle and bustle of people and parties.
If your dog gets especially anxious or worried at noises, unusual events, or disruptions to their routine, it might be worth a chat to your vet for some supportive management. Longer-term, training, or behavioural intervention and support could also be useful to give you and your dog skills to cope with such situations.
You could even consider using ProKalm to support your dog during times of potential stress and worry. ProKalm comes as a tasty powder that can easily be added to your dog’s food on a short-term or longer-term basis and includes key ingredients such as green-tea extract, which may support your dog’s ability to cope with stressful situations.
Advising everyone of consistent behaviour and expectations is also important and even alerting visitors to what to expect around your dog can be critical. This applies as much to how people interact with your dog as it does to what they might want to feed them – remember lots of tasty festive foods are less than ideal for our dogs.
Be Dog and Child Safe
Even the most experienced and placid dog can become anxious and distressed by changes to their routine and the presence of unfamiliar people, especially children. The excitement of the festive season can also mean that children are more excited and boisterous than usual. Sadly, this can create tensions between dogs and children and bite incidents are a real risk.
Keep children and dogs safe by managing all interactions carefully and avoid leaving dogs and children together unsupervised, especially unfamiliar, and very young children who might be unaware of dog body language and signs of potential danger. Indeed, this may apply to all visitors to your home – clarity on expectations and awareness can help everyone enjoy their time in harmony.
Ditch the Dressing Up
While cute costumes might be fun for us, the reality is that for most dogs, dressing up has no value or reward at all. Indeed, dressing up (exceptions being functional clothing for warmth or keeping dry) can actually cause distress for many dogs and the behavioural signs they demonstrate when wearing costumes are often missed or ignored.
In addition, some costumes can actually impair how our dogs move or inhibit their ability to lie down or rest in a relaxed and comfortable position. There are lots of other, welfare-friendly ways to include your dog in the festivities – perhaps a festive themed collar, lead or even harness instead.
One of the most common causes of canine distress during holiday periods is the consumption of items that should not have been eaten! These might include decorations, toys, wrapping materials or even foodstuff that is less than idea for our dogs’ digestive systems.
Unfortunately, many dogs are not very discriminating in their eating habits and young dogs especially are prone to ‘exploring’ the world through their mouths. This can mean that they inadvertently eat items not meant for them, although sometimes they will help themselves (dogs did evolve as highly effective scavengers after all!) In other situations, family and friends might feed your dog items that are potentially dangerous too – another reason why making sure everyone in the house knows what is safe and what is not, is a good idea. An emergency trip to the vets is not much fun and a potentially expensive way to spend the holidays.
Food items to be aware of as potentially dangerous include chocolate and alcohol – both often widely accessible during the festive season. Other foodstuff that can be problematic include grapes and raisons, making mince pies, fruit baskets and Christmas cakes and puddings, dangerous risks. Even onions, blue cheese, macadamia nuts and bread dough can cause significant digestive and health issues.
Occasionally however, just routine changes during the holidays and maybe a few too many treats can result in transient digestive upset. This might manifest as loose stools, flatulence, or some digestive discomfort. In these cases, Healthy Tummy is a useful addition to your dog’s mealtimes and can support a healthy digestive system. Rich in probiotic Enterococcus faecium, prebiotic MOS, FOS and beta-glucans, and ingredients to soothe the digestive system, Healthy Tummy can help to support your dog’s digestion during periods of digestive challenge.
If you think your dog has consumed anything potentially toxic or dangerous or is showing signs of sever discomfort, diarrhoea, and vomiting, it is always best to seek veterinary advice – in many cases, early intervention is essential and can make the difference between significant harm and a slightly poorly pup.
With a bit of care and planning, the festive season can be fun for all members of the family – two and four legged!
- Keep all chocolate, cakes, mince pies and alcoholic drinks out of doggy reach
- Watch for attractive decorations and toys that might be inadvertently ‘borrowed’ by your dog and consumed or damaged and potentially can cause harm
- Needles from Christmas trees can become embedded in paws and fur, so take care to minimise access
- Try to keep a consistent exercise routine when possible – this is good for both body and mind at a potentially busy and sometimes stressful time of the year!
- Relax and enjoy when you can – don’t be afraid to spoil your canine companion a little bit, perhaps with a new toy, some tasty treats or even just some long, fun walks and games
Science Supplements offer a range of high specification, canine supplements that can help to support your dog’s health and wellbeing all year round. We offer options to support your dog’s joint, skin, and digestive health as well as supporting them during periods of anxiety or worry.
You can find out more and explore our canine supplement range, including Healthy Tummy here, or speak to one of our experienced nutritional advisors.