The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
Well this year has FLOWN by, can you even believe it is December all ready! I must confess I need to get my Christmas shopping done, the only thing I have bought so far is a Haypigs Treatball. Speaking of Piggies we had our first Small Animal Wellness day at Stefs! Myself and Paige were the in house Guinea Pig and Rabbit experts, chatting to people all about natural health for our small animals. We covered topics such as diet, bedding, housing and enrichment plus a free 5 point wellness check with any small animal purchase! At Stef’s we believe all pets need a species appropriate diet and we’re just as passionate about our small furries' health as we are our Dogs, Cats, Ferrets, Chickens, Reptiles you name it!
Last month’s blog focused on getting your Christmas Shopping in for Mariah Carey Season. This month I will be going through my top tips for keeping your dogs happy and well this festive season.
The cupboards are full to the brim with treats, the tree is decorated and if you’re super organised you may even have a christmas pudding soaking up Brandy as we speak. Now as much as the festive period is an exciting one, time to reflect, reconnect and indulge we have to be mindful that some of our very traditional Christmas foods can in fact be highly toxic for our pets.
So most people will know this one, chocolate is a big no no for our dogs. The darker the chocolate the more toxic it is, this is due to its Theobromine content. Compared to humans, dogs are unable to metabolise theobromine which makes them incredibly sensitive to its effects as a heart stimulant and diuretic. Think about how much chocolate you have around the house, after dinner chocolate mints, chocolate cake, chocolate orange, hot chocolates the list goes on. One Christmas someone bought me a box of Lindor chocolates and whilst I opened my other presents my very naughty Beagle unwrapped one NEXT TO ME to eat, luckily I caught him in time but you have to have eyes in the back of your head! If you want to give your dog a sweet dog safe treat the Ziwi Walker Freeze Dried Fruit range is the perfect little nibble.
RAISINS & GRAPES
Christmas pudding is stuffed to the brim with raisins, and think about the after dinner cheese board with a lovely bunch of grapes. For over 20 years we have known that grapes are poisonous but one Vet discovered a potential answer for this in 2021! Tartaric acid and potassium bitartrate content is what makes them toxic for dogs to ingest, even a slither of stolen christmas cake can cause kidney failure! If your dog is pining for their own Christmas Dessert, have you tried Doggy Baking Co’s Mix in a Bottle. Perfect for making your own dog friendly cake so your pooch doesn’t feel left out.
It may be tempting to grab a quick picture of your dog posing next to your beer, but in fact one slurp of alcohol can be highly toxic for your dog to ingest. Dogs are unable to metabolise alcohol, leading to central nervous system impairment and hypoglycemia. If you want your dog to join in with the Christmas Dinner toast, something fizzy that will hit the spot is Boil and Broths Kefir Water, full of good bacteria and super healthy for your dogs.
ONIONS & CHIVES
Sage and onion stuffing, a glutenous staple of many Christmas Dinners, maybe even topped with onion gravy too. How about the seasoning of your meat and veg, garnished with flavoursome chives. Both onions and chives are toxic for dogs due to the compound known as N-propyl disulfide, this can lead to anaemia in dogs due to the excessive break down of red blood cells. So don’t be tempted to include any, instead how about some ‘stuffing eque balls’ using trusty SmartBarf. A great mix of dog safe fruit, veg, herbs, seeds, berries, nuts and pulses. Just add some water in small amounts and mould into balls, hey presto!
Christmas Candy Canes on the tree as decoration, a mint to freshen your breath after dinner, maybe you’ve run out of doggy peanut butter for your lick mat and reach for whatever is in the cupboard. These products can sadly contain a highly toxic substance known as xylitol. This sugar substitute can cause hypoglycemia, seizures and even liver failure. Keep you cupboard stocked with Nuts for Pets dog safe peanut butter, and play it safe no edible Christmas decorations.
Accidents happen and some dogs have a 6th sense for pinching so if you suspect your dog has ingested any of the above, be sure to contact your vet immediately. Another tip, make yourself familiar with your Vets holiday hours, your nearest 24/7 vets and pet taxi should you need to visit the vets but you’ve had one too many!
Christmas is notorious for being busy, lots of people in the house, it's noisy and some dogs love all the attention but we have to remember many may not enjoy this time of year. For your older dog who may be suffering with the colder weather and joint discomfort, ensure they have a space to call their own. Advocate for your dog, as people come in just remind them that your dog may need space. Set them up to win, create a safe space so they can retreat if things are too busy. Utilise enrichment but be mindful that they have their own space to enjoy this. Or have them help you open presents if they want to be part of the chaos. My dogs personally love wrapping paper and help me unwrap all of my presents. If your family and friends are bringing dogs around, remember it is a heightened social situation so be sure to check they’re all happy and again SPACE!
Whether you have a quiet Christmas just you and your pets or you have the whole family round or a couple friends over, I hope you all have a wonderful festive period. With my full zoo consisting of three dogs, two guinea pigs, two ferrets, one bird and one husband, my Christmas shopping list is rather long, as you can imagine!
I’ve had a great year with the Stefs Pet Pantry team and we’re already planning for next year's events! For now I will say ta ta and I will catch you in the New Year!
Continue to nourish your dogs with species appropriate nutrition, massage and compassion.