The holiday season is fast approaching, and more and more often, pet owners are including their dogs and cats in the festivities. One survey from PetFinder found that 63% of all dog owners and 58% of all cat owners in the US give their pets a Christmas present every year. Overall, Americans spend an estimated $5 billion annually on holiday gifts for their furry family members!
While it’s fine to spread some holiday love and cheer to your pets, be sure to do so safely. Here are some general rules to follow when it comes to spoiling your dog during the holiday season.
DO: keep a regular routine as much as you can. Dogs do best when their routine is predictable, and too much change can cause anxiety, destructive behavior, and even gastrointestinal problems. While holiday trips and parties can often throw a wrench in your normal schedule, try to keep your dog’s feedings, walks, and bedtimes at their usual hours.
DON’T: give your dog table scraps. Turkey bones at Thanksgiving can pose a choking hazard, and many human foods don’t meet food safety standards for pet consumption. Even foods that aren’t actually toxic to dogs can be too rich and upset their stomachs. Feel free to give your dog an extra treat or two this time of year – but make sure it’s pet-friendly!
DO: splurge on a vet visit as your pet’s “present.” The new year is a great time to get a new canine heartworm antigen test to keep your dog healthy all year. Even though the weather is cold, canine heartworm antigen tests can detect any infections that might have occurred over the summer.
DON’T: give your dog human toys, especially plush or stuffed animals. Dogs can chew right through this material and if they swallow the stuffing, it can lead to some serious intestinal blockage.
DO: be conscious of how your dog reacts to guests. If you are planning to invite friends and family to your home, make sure your dog is well-behaved and capable of handling the excitement. Otherwise, it may be a good idea to find a pet sitter or doggie boarding facility for the evening so your pet can enjoy some quiet time.
DON’T: keep holiday plants within your dog’s reach. Poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly are all toxic to dogs. In addition, standing water at the base of your Christmas tree is a breeding ground for bacteria that could cause an upset stomach.
These easy tips will help you keep everyone safe and happy for a fun and festive holiday season!