PET - A Dog’s Survival Guide to the Festive Season

9 Jan 2017

The drop in the temperature and a season that heralds homes bursting with people, food and excitement each have their own challenges for our four-legged friends, but keep these tips in mind so you can both embrace and enjoy the winter months.

Outdoor junkie: It may be cold outside but it’s important for your dog to stay healthy with plenty of exercise, so keep up your usual walking routine. Although dogs may have their own fur coat, elderly dogs and those with fine hair will feel the chill, so wrap them up in a warm dog coat when you go out - there’s some smart, cosy and fun ones around. If you are walking on roads in low light, make sure you are seen with a torch and a reflective jacket. If you are both be feeling a little reluctant to go out when it’s cold, choose warmer times of the day when the sun is right up.

Some post-walk pampering: After chilly winter walks, rub your dog with a towel (or even give them a blow dry with a hairdryer at a distance). Older dogs, especially those with arthritis or stiff joints, will benefit from this. If you have been on icy roads treated with salt or chemical ice treatments, wash their paws as these can be painful on cracked or sensitive pads. You can also trim fur away from between their toes to stop ice balls forming on walks.

It’s cold outside: Don’t leave dogs out for too long in freezing temperatures without access to warmth and shelter – and never in a cold car. Hypothermia can set it after just a few minutes. If you do suspect hypothermia, warm them up slowly by wrapping them up with a blanket and a covered hot water bottle or in a warm room, and call your vet.

Dog Day Retreat: Over the festive period, the house may be full of people and noise, which can be confusing and exciting for dogs. Create a quiet retreat for them, behind a sofa in a cosy room away from the crowd. Introduce them to this in the days before everyone arrives, praising and rewarding them when they relax there, so they know they can escape. You can even plug in a pheromone diffuser which gives out calming scents only pets can smell.

Keeping trim: We all enjoy some extra indulgence at this time of year, but don’t make your dog go on a new year diet. Keep meals to the same size. Feeding them good quality, nutritionally balanced dog food will keep them strong and healthy, which is doubly important for working dogs. If their water bowl is kept outside, make sure it doesn’t freeze over. Another note on consumption, watch out for spilt antifreeze, as dogs are often drawn to drinking it and is very poisonous.

Christmas Unwrapped: Christmas trees, baubles and wrapping can all cause chaos when dogs are around, so keep doors closed when you can. The temptation to unwrap presents before the day can be irresistible for our canine friends, especially if they are of the edible variety. After present opening, make sure you quickly remove any wire from packaging as well as batteries. Dogs often explore with their mouths, and these can cause serious internal damage if swallowed.

Tasty temptations: Nothing is more frustrating than finding the dog has eaten the beautiful fillet of beef you left on the side, but it’s also not very good for them. Keep temptation out of your dog’s way by putting all food away, especially after Christmas lunch. While you are opening presents or sleeping off lunch, they could be having a wonderful feast, but dogs can choke on turkey bones, and chocolate, onions, raisins and certain nuts can all prove poisonous to canines, so watch out for the mince pies and leftover stuffing. Buy them their own treats instead.

Enjoy them: With everything going on at this time of year, it’s easy to sideline our four legged friends. Make sure you still give them their walks and tummy rubs, and a new toy or two for Christmas.

You will find a wide range of essential kit for you and your dog in winter, from dog food and dog coats to winter boots and accessories, at Harbro Country Stores

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