Our dogs are totally aware it’s Christmas-time…
Think of all the new smells, activities, visitors (well, maybe fewer this year…), the deliveries and all the noise and bustle that comes with this time of year. For our dogs, this is unusual super sensory stimulation and a very exciting time to be with their families, right in the centre of the action.
AND OF COURSE WE LOVE THEM TO BE PART OF IT!
On top of it all… we bring an ACTUAL TREE (!!) into the house… how confusing that must seem to our hounds – to be sniffing those lovely piney, woody smells normally only encountered on a thrilling walk in the woods.
It’s natural to include your dog in the festivities
Who isn’t tempted to sneak a little off their plate to treat their four-legged friends? So be sure you’re clear on what you CAN and CAN’T share safely, to avoid a Boxing Day trip to the Vet. Many owners are clear on the major no-no’s like alcohol, chocolate, grapes and cooked bones – but there are parts of our seasonal menu that you can safely share to make your dog feel included.
More-so than for ourselves, it’s important to avoid over-indulging and not overwhelm your dog with rich foods that they have not evolved, or become accustomed, to eating regularly.
Suddenly switching a diet of dry kibble to a rich banquet of juicy meat, salty veg and gravy may surprise their digestive systems in ways you don’t want to be dealing with on a cold, wet morning walk.
Sharing just a little of the safe treats that we enjoy will be a lot for your dog and they’ll really appreciate it.
Top tips to prepare and include your dog
Add a few seasonal food items gradually into their diet in the lead-up to Christmas Day. Learn how your dog responds to some steamed veg, try them on some leftover cuts of meat as a little extra to their usual food (if this is different). Don’t present them with an entire roast Turkey lunch and expect a normal digestive response…. a ‘little’ of something like oil or seasoning is a ‘lot’ to your dog and any change in diet can cause upsets regardless of what it is.
Don’t forget that food is lying around in all sorts of interesting and not-usually-available places, like inside chocolate advent calendars… your dog may be thinking this is a fun new snuffle-mat game, rather than a box of harmful ingredients.
Holly and mistletoe are dangerous so be sure if these are in your decorations they are up high and be on the watch for any fallen holly berries. Poinsettas can also irritate their digestion.
Similarly, bowls of nuts left out for your guests to munch on may be too tempting for your dog – so make sure they are out of reach
Combinations of food, snacks and alcohol are more plentiful at this time of year – think about liqueur chocolates, or butters/creams whisked with brandy and whisky. It’s easier for your dog to get a lick or bite of something alcoholic, which is not a good idea.
- Keep a note of the ‘NICE’ and ‘NAUGHTY’ LISTs below – maybe even print and pin up on the fridge or somewhere prominent. Sometimes, a well-meaning guest may decide to share their treats with your pooch, not knowing that it’s a bad idea.
- Consider other ideas to include your dog beyond the food on the table. We love this list of ideas from the PDSA (full link below):
Get them a new toy, or re-introduce an old favourite.
Try a new walk full of new smells and things to explore
Provide lots of playtime with guests
Make puzzle games and fun feeders.
Try a different flavour of their usual food.
well-cooked meat including Turkey (white meat) - no skin or bones
steamed/boiled vegetables (sprouts are OK but not advised)
bread (small portions)
thyme and rosemary are OK if you cooked with these
potatoes (without salt or butter)
The Naughty List
fruits, particularly strawberries, cherries and grapes, canned pineapple
gravy and cranberry sauce (too much sugar! Cranberries are OK though)
seasoning such as nutmeg and onion powder.. so watch out for stuffing!
bacon (including pigs in blankets)
although butter and salt are consumable, keep to a minimum
Here’s the link to the PDSA article