Keeping Your Dog Happy and Safe This Holiday Season

My Dog Spot’s Tips on How to Safely Celebrate the Holiday with Your Dog

By Madison Guthrie

The holidays are filled with joy and magic, but they can also be a time of stress and anxiety. And humans aren’t the only ones under pressure.

Many pet parents find that their pets are more hypersensitive during this time of year and worry about how they can help their dogs adjust to ensure the season is more enjoyable for everyone.

If this sounds like you but you just don’t know where to start, you’re in luck because My Dog Spot is here to help!

The Holiday Season Can Be A Hazardous and Stressful Time for Your Dog

Dogs are sensitive to a number of holiday hazards, including:

• Holiday-induced anxiety

• Access to unsafe foods

• Access to harmful decorations

• Traveling hazards 

But don’t let this scare you out of enjoying the season with your pup.

It’s perfectly safe to celebrate with your four-legged-friend, as long as you understand where the dangers are and prepare for them.

Managing Your Dog’s Holiday-Induced Anxiety

Many pets can suffer from holiday-induced anxiety. These anxieties stem from a number of things and can present themselves in different ways.

The most common causes of anxiety in your dog this holiday season stem from:

• Doorbell anxiety

When the holidays arrive, so do our friends and family. If your dog barks like a madman every time the doorbell rings or someone comes knocking, you may want to consider counter conditioning.

You can use positive reinforcement such as treats and clicker training to get him used to people coming to the door.

By offering your dog a reward each time he hears the ringing or knocking, he will begin to associate it with something positive over time and the barking and excitement will calm down.

If you don’t have a few weeks to practice this technique, your next best option is to give your dog a safe room to stay when you know that company is coming over. 

Play soothing music and provide him with chew toys and a soft place to lay or a crate if he is prone to destructive behaviors like chewing.

Of course, there are always options like thunder vests, aromatherapy, and calming treats, most of which are available at our favorite local pet shop, My Pet Garden!

• Traveling

Many dog owners travel during the holidays. If you are planning on taking a trip with your dog this season, make sure you get Fido checked out and cleared by your veterinarian first.

If you are flying, you will need a certification of health and records that his vaccinations are up to date.

If you plan on taking a road trip with your dog, remember that the safest place for your dog to ride is in the backseat.

You may also consider getting him a crate or doggy seatbelt to better ensure he’s secured for the ride.

Remember, traveling can be stressful regardless of whether you are flying or driving. If your dog is not a fan of car rides, you can get him prepared for the trip by taking him on short adventures and offering him treats and praise.

If you are flying and are worried your dog may become stressed, speak with your veterinarian about possible options.

Never medicate your dog without speaking with your veterinarian first.

• Sensory sensitivity

The winter celebrations are exciting and fun, but they are also full of loud, unfamiliar sounds, smells, and visuals.

Bright, flashing lights, the fireworks on New Year’s Eve, and the unusual smells of strange foods can lead to sensory overload in your dog.

Remember, Fido has much stronger senses than we do and can easily become overwhelmed by all of these things at once.

If your dog is sensitive to drastic changes in his environment, you may want to do the same thing you would do for his doorbell anxiety.

Ensure that, during the festivities at least, your dog has a safe space that his all his own. A quiet, dimly lit room with music playing to drown out the noise and chaos typically works best.

Of course, as mentioned, if you know your dog has destructive behaviors, it would be best to get him crate trained before the holiday begins.

But what other holiday hazards is your dog up against this season aside from anxiety?

Holiday Food Safety Tips for Your Dog

Yummy food may very well be one of the best things about the holiday season, and while we do consider our pups family, it’s important to remember that many human foods can wreak havoc on our dogs’ digestive systems.

This is especially true during the holiday season when a number of foods are left out in the open for family and friends to pick over while conversing.

A list of Unsafe Foods for Dogs You May Encounter This Holiday Season Are:

Caffeine Dairy

Candy Garlic, chives, and onions

Alcohol Eggnog

Chocolate Nuts

Nutmeg Grapes and raisins

Salt and sugar Chicken and turkey bones

Along with the above list of human foods that are bad for dogs, My Dog Spot also wants to remind you that anything that is too spicy, fatty, sugary, or otherwise highly seasoned should not be given to your dog.

And while it is usually alright to give your dog little tastes of things he loves like ham or turkey meat, keep in mind that these table scraps should be monitored and given sparingly. Talk with family and friends about sneaking treats to your dog and remind them that you are keeping these foods away from Fido for his safety, not because you are being greedy or cruel.

If you feel your dog has gotten into some holiday goodies that could be harmful to him, contact your local veterinarian right away.

For those in the Pasadena area, My Dog Spot recommends the TLC South Pasadena Pet Medical Center.

They are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They can be reached at:

Phone Number:

(626) 441-8555

Address:

1412 Huntington Drive South Pasadena, CA 91030

Decorations and Other Hidden Dangers for Your Dog This Holiday

Keep in mind that your dog may be tempted to chew and play with things he may not otherwise be tempted to chew and play with.

Never leave your dog unsupervised near plugged in Christmas lights or other electrical equipment that may entice his curious nature. And beware of holiday favorites like mistletoe and holly.

Both can be toxic to dogs if ingested.

Other Tips on Keeping Your Dog Safe and Healthy This Holiday Season

Aside from getting your dog checked out by a vet before traveling, conditioning him to car rides and doorbells, and keeping your dog away from unsafe foods, you can also:

Communicate with your company about health and safety concerns for your dog

Never leave your dog unsupervised around the table where he could have access to unsafe foods.

Never leave alcoholic or sugary beverages unattended and in your dog’s reach.

If traveling, make sure your dog’s ID tag is up-to-date and that he has a strong leash and harness. You may also consider having him chipped and registered if he is not already.

Last but not least, help ensure the health and happiness of your dog this holiday season by getting him outside and exercised every day.

Too Busy to Walk Your Dog This Holiday Season?

My Dog Spot is your one-stop shop for an anxiety-free dog this holiday. We not only exercise your dog but can help with any behavioral issues you may encounter.

Email us today at contact@walkmydogspot.com for more information.

References

Bonne Beerda, Matthijs B.H. Schilder, Jan A. R. A. M. van Hoof, Hans W. De Vries, Manifestations of Chronic and Acute Stress in Dogs, Applied Animal Behavior Science,

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159196011318

Lori R. Kogan, Regina Schoenfeld-Tacher, Allen A. Simon, Behavioral Effects of Auditory Stimulation on Kenneled Dogs, Journal of Veterinary Behavior

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1558787811001845

Deborah L. Wells, PhD, Aromatherapy for Travel-Induced Excitement in Dogs, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association,

https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/javma.229.6.964

EF Hiby, NJ Rooney, JWS Bradshaw, Dog Training Methods: Their Use, Effectiveness, and Interaction with Behaviour and Welfare, Animal Welfare 2004

http://dogscouts.org/base/tonto-site/uploads/2014/10/620_art_training_methods.pdf

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