How to best care for your dog during the holidays

Dogs in motion blog on how to best care for your dog during the holidays

How the holiday season can affect your dog

The holiday season is a crazy time of year with all the social engagements due to Christmas and New Years parties, extra visitors in the house, shopping for gifts and groceries, and lots of delicious items being cooked in the kitchen. Often, we aren’t aware of the effect it can have on our four-legged members of the family.

Here are some things you need to consider to provide the best care for your dog during the holidays:

Be careful of the left-overs

It can be tempting to give your dog the leftovers from Christmas dinner but there is an increased risk at this time of year that this could do them harm.

There are sultanas in the pudding, chocolate in almost everything, and onions in the roast and vegetables. All can be dangerous to your dog’s health. So, it’s best not to give them these “treats” and be sure to keep an eye on your guests to ensure grandma doesn’t either.

Instead, make them their own special Christmas doggie dinner with plain meat and vegetables. No sauces, gravies, condiments, and no cooked bones!

Keep the same exercise routine

With all the extra time off most people get over the Christmas break, together with New Year’s resolutions, often we tend to increase our own exercise regime and want to take our best friend with us on the journey.

Just like our bodies though, it’s not always a good idea to drastically increase exercise (or decrease it either) as it puts undue stress on the body and can have long-lasting negative results for your dog.

You may vary the exercise- take them to new places, for a swim at the beach or walk on a safe track (beware of snakes) but just be mindful you don't significantly increase their exercise over several days without the prior conditioning.

Keep the environment zen like

During the holiday season, there are usually extra visitors in the home which could become overwhelming for some dogs with the increased activity and energy levels.

Be mindful of this and how it can affect the anxiety levels of your dog. Consider placing them in a different area of the house or garden. Or limiting the number of personal contact to one on one so it doesn’t become overwhelming.

Avoid too much play time

Be aware when guests bring their dogs to visit that not all dogs enjoy a dog visitor in their home.

If friends or family need to bring their dog over to your house, ensure the dogs are supervised and have adequate space to move away from each other if they desire. Having different rooms or areas in the yard so you can separate them is a bonus. They may have a wonderful time playing together but may also need some time to themselves.

Be mindful of age differences, size differences or health differences of any dogs mixing together. We don't want to make an older dog exhausted or sore by excessive play, or have a small dog bowled over, or an injured dog flare up its sore limb through visiting dog playfulness.

The best kind of gift for your dog

Don’t forget to include your dog in the Christmas gift receiving experience. Be sure to have a toy for them under the tree that will enrich their lives.

There are so many options available these days you can easily find something that will keep their mind entertained or increase their play time enjoyment and keep them part of the family experience.

Always use premium quality treats to fill any reward toys. Avoid Christmas themed cheap toys with colourings in rawhide and poor-quality chew sticks as these can be toxic to your dog.  Better still make your own.

Forward plan to avoid stress

When you are out celebrating it’s easy to sometimes lose track of the time and suddenly your best friend has been left alone for too many hours. This can be stressful for both you and your dog.

Forward planning is the best solution here. If you think there is a chance you might be a bit late home, ask a neighbour or a friend to check in on your dog to ensure it has enough food, water, shelter from the elements and of course cuddles.

Make sure you have the neighbours phone number so you can ring them if you do suddenly get delayed.

Fireworks aren't always fun for all

Fireworks can be a problem for many dogs and there are more of them popping up in local neighbourhoods on unexpected evenings at this time of year.

Dogs can often find fireworks a traumatic experience. Be mindful of this and if there are going to be fireworks in your area, make sure your dog is in a place they feel safe and reassure them with cuddles.

If you can’t be there, and you know there are some scheduled then have someone stay with them in your absence.

Keep the familiar routine

With all the extra commitments during the holiday season often the usual dog walking, caring and feeding routine changes. This can create anxiety in your pet as they don’t know what to expect.

Do your best to keep the same routine for your dog to ensure they feel safe and secure.

By following these recommendations on how to best care for your dog during the holidays you can ensure that you, your family and your fur baby all have an enjoyable holiday season which is what we wish for everyone.

Merry Christmas from us

On behalf of all the team at Dogs in Motion we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Please note, we will be open throughout the holiday season every day with the exception of the public holidays (Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day).

With the right exercise, nutrition and mindset your dog can live a happier, healthier and longer life with you. Find out the right treatment for your dog by booking an assessment with one of our qualified canine physiotherapists at the Dogs in Motion Melbourne clinic or if you can't make it to the clinic we also offer online appointments now too.

About Michelle Monk

I am completely passionate about providing access to rehabilitation for as many dogs and their owners as possible. Not just through my own clinics but also by teaching other health professionals such as Vets, Vet Nurses and Physiotherapists how to provide quality rehabilitation in their clinics.