Golden Labrador Retriever by Woodson's Mom on Unsplash
Golden Labrador Retriever by Woodson's Mom on Unsplash

How to keep your dog healthy and happy at Christmas

Even though Christmas celebrations are going to be a bit quieter this year, it can still be an unsettled time for your dog. The festive season can be a nervous time for dogs, especially with visits from relatives, excited children and changes to the normal routine. With that in mind, here are some handy tips for keeping your dog happy and healthy this Christmas.

Remove temptation

Christmas is a time when there’s a lot of tasty human food in the kitchen and under the tree: food that can be fatal to dogs. Chocolate and mince pies are probably the biggest hazards. Be careful to keep temptation out of your dog’s reach.

But it’s not just poisonous foodstuffs that can be problematic. Too much food, and food that your dog isn’t used to, can result in a poorly tummy.

Dogs are naturally curious and playful, so keep an eye on them around presents under the tree. The tree and decorations themselves can also be a victim of your dog’s cheeky nature and are a potential hazard. Don’t leave you dog unattended around those dangling baubles (especially if they’re chocolate).

Keep a routine for your dog

Keep to your walking and feeding timetable as much as you can over the festive period.

Dogs like their routines. If you keep a regular routine, it’s going to unsettle your dog if you suddenly break it. Don’t ditch that morning walk for some frenzied present opening.

If your dog is used to walks or playtime in the afternoon or evening, then that’s what they’ll be expecting on Christmas Day. It’s difficult dragging yourself from the warmth of your home and the comfort of the sofa after a large meal, but prepare yourself!

A quiet, calm space for your pet

Dogs have sensitive hearing, so it’s unsurprising that lots of extra noise in the house will be a bit disconcerting. Excitable or energetic dogs may get over stimulated, and nervous dogs will find it stressful.

In busy household’s with young children, it’s going to be noisy at Christmas time. So, before the big day, make sure you establish a safe and quiet space for your dog to use. A crate in a quiet corner with blankets draped over can provide a calm, private spot for your dog to chill.

Poppy the beagle, dog on chair
Poppy chilling on a chair with her blanket

Don’t overcrowd your pooch

If you’re one of the many families who’ve welcomed a puppy into the home this year, then relatives are going to want to meet the little one. Too many new people fussing around your pooch can be unsettling.

If you’ve got young relatives coming over, make sure you set some boundaries. If you’re dog isn’t used to children, and vice versa if the kids aren’t used to dogs, it can be problematic. Dogs that feel threatened will nip. Kids often don’t realise that they shouldn’t pull tails and ears.

If your dog is in their safe space such as their bed or crate, leave them alone. A safe space has to be just that.

And one final tip!

As we have a food-obsessed beagle, we have one big rule in our house. If you’ve got a mince pie, you must have one hand on it at all times until you’ve eaten it. The reason? Poppy’s first Christmas with us, she ate one off a plate. She wolfed it down in the blink of an eye. Thankfully she was ok, but we never want to risk it again!

I hope you find these tips helpful for keeping your dog happy and healthy this Christmas. If you’re looking for more information on how to keep all your pets calm at Christmas, the RSPCA has some further advice.