Don’t get me wrong, I am not asking not to celebrate Christmas. Nor am I saying you should shut your dog out of the way when having your family around to celebrate Christmas. But it’s also true that Christmas is for most of us one of the busiest times of the year. So, it’s only but fair that in the heat of preparations we ensure we don’t neglect our dogs and allow them to put themselves in dangerous situations.
But hey, fear not! Let me help you today, by jotting down what I think are the top ten most dangerous facts for your dog at Christmas, and how to avoid them.
Living With A Border Terrier … You Learn
We as a family adopted Indy when he was 5, but he came to live with us when he was 6 – that would make it 8 years ago.
And now, of course, at the golden age of 14, Indy is much calmer – though nonetheless inquisitive.
But I do remember how much fun the last few Christmases have been when Indy was younger. He would literally want to poke his nose everywhere!
Wrapping presents was a job to be done while Indy was out walking. Likewise, the Christmas tree would have to come up at the very last minute, as you would want to avoid leaving Indy in the house on his own … him and Christmas tree on their own, no, bad idea.
Not to talk about food.
I am sure I have mentioned before when Indy one Christmas eve managed to get to a box of milk chocolate, managed to unwrap it all and managed to eat the whole of the first layer, before starting feel full and unwell. That, I must admit, was the worst Christmas eve of my life! We called the emergency vet, and luckily Indy got better of his own accord, by just keeping throwing up for virtually the whole night.
The next day we were absolutely knackered due to worry and lack of sleep, the garden was smelling of chocolate (it felt like coming out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory #lol), but Indy was as brighter and more sprightly than ever. It all ended well, and we had a wonderful day.
You can imagine, however, how much I have learned through the years, so that as time has gone by, I have now learned to take precautions.
And that’s what prompted me to compile a list of things that could possibly put in danger our dogs. If Indy was so excitable when adult, can you imagine how even more excitable your dog may get if (s)he is younger?!?!?!
Top Ten Most Dangerous Christmas Related Things For Your Dog
This is what I thought may be the most recurring things your dog may come across in the days leading up to Christmas, as well as during the actual Christmas Holidays.
Now, each family and household have different habits and traditions. So, you may realise, after going through my list, that I have actually not mentioned some other facts, not included here, which you may have experienced with your dog over the Christmas period, and which you think people should be aware of.
By all means, if this is the case, do drop us a line in the Comment box below, so we can all help each other.
This said, and without further ado, let me give you my top ten most dangerous Christmas related facts for our dogs.
#1. Christmas Tree
I have already mentioned how Christmas trees can be a magnet of excitement not only for the human children of the house, but for dogs too. But how many times have we heard that the dog of our neighbour’s friend managed to pull the tree down, trying to reach out to some fascinating decorations hanging from the lower branches?!?!
So, tip #1. Either get a smaller tree, which you can seat on a coffee table or on a stand away from the floor. Or, if you have a bigger tree, which has to sit on the floor, remember to hang decorations only on the upper branches.
Likewise, especially if you like to decorate your Christmas tree with lights, remember that especially puppies do like to chew and gnaw. And light cables are particularly attractive! So, try to keep those electric cables elevated and out of reach.
#2. Christmas Decorations
That’s another tradition that most households like to embrace. You get your Christmas decorations box out of the loft and start decorating the house with tinsel, garlands, and light strings.
As per my #1 recommendation, try to keep everything out of reach. I understand this might be particularly difficult if you have a bigger dog.
In that case, try to stay extra vigilant when in the house. But if you have to leave your dog in the house on her/his own for a few hours, try to lock them in a room where there may be comforts for her and him (primarily a comfy bed and water), but where there may be no Christmas decorations at all!
Sometime it is necessary to ‘be cruel to be kind’ – no, I am not advocating dog cruelty here, but I am only suggesting that we do all our level best to keep our dog safe.
#3. Wrapping Gifts
As far as Borders are concerned, a bundle of rustling paper being shuffled on a table is a recall to Borders’ primal instincts. It’s the reminder of rustling creatures in the undergrowth of woods, or scattering away in a farm barn. But I am sure anything to do with wrapping presents raises curiosity in all other dog breeds, and it’s seen as another playful activity to join in with the rest of the family.
The problem is that, not only your dog can tear to pieces all the lovely wrapping paper you may have bought, but that (s)he may also ingest what’s hiding under wrapping paper: scissors, sellotape, ribbons, you name it.
How to avoid all that? You can try and do your present wrapping when you dog is outside on his/her daily walk, or when (s)he is asleep (yes, I know, this may mean waking up early morning when the rest of the house is still snoozing, but you would do this anyway … to give Santa a helpful hand #wink), or just keep all your wrapping material elevated on quite a high table and with all your equipment well out of reach.
Yes, where there is wrapping, there are presents. These may be presents that are spread around the house, waiting to be delivered, or presents which family and friends give you before Christmas.
Now, especially if you like to leave your presents nicely wrapped and do not like to open them until Christmas day, please please please do NOT leave them nicely displayed under your Christmas tree like you see in the movies.
In a dogless household, ideally you can do this. But in a house with a dog, if you leave your wrapped presents under the Christmas tree, well, they will not last till Christmas morning, trust me.
This may apply more so to terriers, I know. But all other breeds, I am sure, may see the appeal in wanting to explore what’s hiding under that nice paper. Is it a toy for them, is it food? You can see how much fun and entertainment starting munching at unopened presents may be for puppies, but for older dogs too, right?
So, again, keep all presents on top of your wardrobes, and out of sight – certainly not under the bed.
#5. Christmas Plants
Now, I wanted to mention plants, as this something I have only discovered recently.
I have always liked to keep a poinsettia plant in the house for Christmas, as I find it very festive and very symbolic of Christmas, with its lovely red flowers and dark and shiny green leaves. Well, did you know that Poinsettias are dangerous for your dog?
Not all dogs are interested in munching at plants, especially if indoor potted plants. But if you dog likes to have a taste of anything and everything, be advised that poinsettia will not be lethal, but is toxic for pets, causing these mild to more severe symptoms:
- Licking lips
- Skin irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness)
- Eye irritation
If symptoms persist, you should contact the emergency vet, who will subminister an antidote.
Similar symptoms can be caused if your dog ingests Christmas Holly.
Now, with holly, I have found that, where some sources say consequences are as mild as with poinsettia, other research concludes that Christmas Holly can actually be fatal for your dog. For this reason, if you suspect your dog may have ingested holly, you may want to err on the side of caution and contact your vet immediately.
Naturally, and all for the sake of keeping your dog safe, the best is to just not keep any of these plants in the house at all.
#6. Electric Cables And Candles
I have already mentioned cabling regarding Christmas trees and decorations.
Just an extra word of advice, purely as there might be extra cabling being laid on the floor, not only to plug in electrical powered decorations, but additional electric appliances that we may use at Christmas: cooking equipment, heating equipment, electric toys for your children.
I am not suggesting that you abolish anything and everything electric in the house. I am only asking that you be extra vigilant when plugging cables in, ensuring, for your own safety too, that they have not been previously been gnawed at.
Also never leave any appliance plugged in, nor switched on, when you don’t use it or when you are not in the house.
But … how about candles? Of course beware of keeping candles out of reach of your dog. Naturally, not only they are dangerous when lit up, but your dog may be attracted by the actual fragrance of the wax and end up eating them!!!
Food, glorious food – for our dogs as much as for us.
Of course you want to allow your dog to have the extra tasty tidbits, but just make sure you it doesn’t end up eating too much, giving him/herself indigestion.
Most importantly, remember?
CHOCOLATE, GRAPES, RAISIN AND SULTANA ARE ALL POISONOUS, AND POTENTIALLY LETHAL, FOOD FOR YOUR DOG!!!
#8. Changed Routine
So, ok, try to see this from your dog’s view point. You are busier: one day you take out all these boxes full of fun stuff, another day you start erecting this fun tree, then the door bell goes off and guests come in the house.
Do Border Terriers like their daily regular routine:
It can all add up to too much. So, here’s what your dog ends up thinking: ‘Hold on, I like all this fun, but now I am tired, I need my afternoon snoozes’ or ‘Hello, mum, I am here. It’s walkies time!!! Have you forgotten?’.
What I am trying to say is, no matter how much busier you are going to get, please try to ensure that your dog’s habits are not disrupted, either through yourself having to do more, or with guests coming to visit.
Christmas brings noise. Children get more excitable, adults get more excitable trying to calm down children (or each other #lol) and dogs can get barkier.
Also, you are bound to have visitors to the house, who will bring more noise, as far as your dog is concerned.
Now, some dogs may embrace the added chatter more happily than others.
Know your dog. Watch how your dog is reacting to all the added noise. If you see that your dog tends to hide under or behind furniture, or tries to find shelter in another room away from people, well, those are signs that your dog is now fed up with all the added noise, and wants some peace and quiet.
Some dogs may in fact find it all a bit too much, and this may trigger anxiety in them.
Manage your dog’s anxiety with CBD:
In which case, you may want to try and control and limit the amount of extra noise going on in the house. And you may want to allow days when there is nobody else in the house, so that your dog can have a quiet energy replenishing day.
Finally, let me spend a few more words on guests.
Dogs can often steal the limelight when we have guests visiting. They may not have a dog of their own, and find your dog absolutely adorable – and rightly so!!
On the other hand, your dog may make him/herself even more adorable by playing some clever tricks, or by sitting by your guests’ feet, allowing them to stroke him or her.
What happens next? Your guest starts feeding your dog treats, often human treats – and often unaware of any potential food that may be dangerous for your dog (yes, such as chocolate or grapes and raisins!!!), or of any allergies that your dog may suffer from.
So, here’s the added thing: keep an eye on humans as much as on your dog!!!
Let Your Dog Enjoy Christmas
Well, I sincerely hope I have not killed the fun that Christmas can bring to your family and to your dog. This was never my intention.
Because, in spite of it all, you and your dog can still have fun!
Remember, your dog can sense the excitement in the household for something special going on – something party like, with more people, the smell of more food and more things being brought out of boxes. You can allow them to be part of all this, so long as you keep a more watchful eye on your dog, as well as on everything and everyone around the household.
I am not suggesting at all that we should lock the dog away from the celebrations. But allow your dog to have fun in a control way – controlled by you.
For instance, when wrapping presents, do give your dog some old paper, make a ball of it and hide some yummy treats inside it. It will provide a good source of entertainment for your dog, whilst keeping her busy and allowing you to get on with your job in hand.
One last thing to mention. I have at times referred to bigger breeds and how they may reach up to higher levels – tables, kitchen worktops, etc. But do not be fooled by the smaller breeds, who may be equally able to reach high by skillfully and willfully by jumping like pro Olympians!
On this note, and a little bit prematurely maybe, Indy and I wish you all, from the bottom of our heart, a wonderful, safe, dog-friendly Christmas to you all, your families and friends, but mostly the fur members of your homes.
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