You love your furry friend. He or she needs a little extra TLC due to an injury or chronic illness, but you don't mind doing it. After all, they are a member of the family! Yet, as routine as caring for them on a daily basis has become for you, it is important to realize that the Holiday Season will be a bit different. You may be gone longer than usual while out shopping or at holiday parties. Perhaps you plan on having guests over. These guests may startle, upset, or excite your dog more than usual. They may be loud. They may accidentally leave the door open. There's also going to be new decorations for your pup to investigate. Lights and presents are everywhere. Don't forget the risk of chocolate getting into the wrong mouth. There's even a tree in the living room! All of this adds up to a lot for your little guy or girl to handle. How can you help?
#1 Only dress them up if they want to participate.
Who doesn't love a picture of a dog wearing a sweater? If you plan on dressing your dog up, make sure they think it’s fun too! Watch for signs of stress or fear, such as shaking or trying to pull it off. A cute holiday sweater can be heavy and hot to wear, make sure your pet is always comfortable and not overheating. One way to compromise would be to have them wear their sweater for the beginning of your party, take lots of photos, and then remove it.
#2 Be mindful of any dangers you bring into the house.
Did you know that poinsettia plants are toxic? Does your dog? Holiday decorations give our homes a festive look, but they can also be dangerous for dogs. When you bring plants into the house, it’s important to know what you’re bringing in before an animal can get to it. Beyond poinsettias, also avoid holly and mistletoe. Also, tinsel and other sparkly ribbons and decorations can pose a choking hazard for dogs.
#3 Don't give them bones from the table.
Yes, those sad puppy eyes are hard to resist. Don't feed them table scraps like turkey bones. These are dangerous because a brittle, spiky bone can irritate your dog’s stomach, or worse, become lodged in their esophagus. Remember to put your leftovers away immediately following your parties and tell guests to do the same. Some dogs are not shy about grabbing any food that’s within reach!
You know what's going on and are excited for it, but your dog doesn't. The holiday rush can be stressful for dogs who are not accustomed to all the people, noise, decorations, food, music, and excitement. It may be best to designate a quiet room where they can relax, especially if he or she has a prosthetic leg or custom leg brace that means they can't be jumping and running all night long. Give them their favorite toys to help keep them calm and check on them often.