Here are some handy tips for you to help keep you and your dog happy and SAFE over the festive season

(for ALL ages of dogs…cats too)

Fun, parties & visitors over the holidays:

Some dogs will enjoy extra people around, for some it can be very stressful-just because you are enjoying ‘festive fun’ it, doesn’t mean your dog must too.

If you’re hosting a party/get together:

Some dogs will become over excited or frightened when around unusual noises such as children toys, balloons popping, party bangers, flashing lights etc and intoxicated visitors can also cause a dog to feel uneasy – being grabbed, cuddled and told your a good boy over and over is not some dog’s idea of a fun day out, so plan in advance to help keep your best friend relaxed. If your dog is known not to cope well with these types of situations, or you haven’t had your dog long enough to find out, don’t take chances, be ready with your dog’s ‘retreat area’:  Make sure your dog(s) has a retreat somewhere familiar where he can go and relax away from all the noise and excitement if he needs to or you need to put him somewhere safe, for example a room upstairs or in a room with his bed somewhere familiar and quiet. Provide some favourite chews, or a stuffed Kong ( chew toy ) to help keep him occupied,where he likes to be, leave the radio/TV on to help block out some of the party’s noise! Exercise your dog in advance to help him settle down whilst you get on enjoying yourself!

Some foods can be harmful:

Many festive foods can be harmful and toxic to dogs. These include fatty or spicy foods, breads and dough, fresh herbs, alcoholic beverages and sweets of all kinds—especially those with chocolate or artificial sweeteners. Chocolate is POISONOUS and the results can be FATAL- ie: DEATH.  Keep all human food away from your beloved pets!

Particularly dangerous are cooked bones. Cooked bones easily splinter and the bone shards can cause choking or get stuck in your dog’s gums, throat area. Instead, give “dog bones” specifically designed for dogs to chew. Ask your veterinarian or pet shop for suggestions.  It’s natural that you’d want to share treats with your dog. While a little taste of turkey/chicken or sweet potatoes can make your dog happy, don’t overdo it—too much of a good thing can make him very, very sick.

 Visitors, Visitors… :

Extra people in and out increases the risk of your dog being let out of your home by mistake; always make sure doors are closed and that you know where your dog is – safely inside. Each year dogs go missing during the holiday period – is your dog wearing a collar and ID tag, is your dog identi-chipped/micro-chipped? Are your details up to date- these are crucial to your pet, if he may lose his way.

Christmas Presents:

Your goodies: Many dogs will be intrigued by the sudden appearance of wrapped boxes and who could blame them, so if you don’t want yours unwrapped by Santa’s little helper, keep the boxes hidden! Wrappings, trimmings, tinsel etc, can be very dangerous if chewed or swallowed, so keep safely away when not in use & bin after.

Doggie presents: Make sure your dogs own Christmas present(s) are ’dog proof’ – suitable for your dog, robust enough and safe for use.  Always supervise a dog when playing with toys/bones,chewies etc- when he’s done pack them away to bring out later again.

Christmas Trees & Decorations:

Once a year some of us fill our rooms up with trees, dangling objects, lights and even hang food around in odd places. We know what is going on, but our dogs probably just think we have gone a bit nuts in the nicest of ways!  Make sure your dog doesn’t try chew any of these as they can be a serious choking hazard!


Make sure you keep your tree lights and any other electrical decorations safely out of your dogs reach-especially if your dog is inclined to investigate or chew through exposed electrical cord. Electrocution can easily be caused.


If you have a real tree, the needles which fall daily can become stuck in your dog’s paws and are also dangerous if eaten, vacuum daily and keep your dog (and other animals) away from them. Don’t let your dog drink the tree water. Some dogs like to mark out against them (why else did human bring a tree indoors?) so bear that in mind too!

Tree Decor:

From a dogs point of view – the Christmas tree with its dangling goodies is pretty tempting and begging to be investigated, trees can easily topple over especially once weighed down with decorations and lights etc so try to secure the tree down so it does not fall over so easily if bumped into by your dog (or wagging tail). Trees do tend to look better by the window rather than being worn round the house by your enthusiatic dog!Dogs can easily be caught up in tinsel and find hanging decorations particularly appealing and ripe for pulling off. Life will be a lot easier and safer if you limit your dog’s access to the area if you need to and don’t leave tree and dog unattended! Puppies are especially inquisitive – avoid hazards- puppy proof!!


If you are visiting and taking your dog with you – don’t forget to pack his bag too! Check in advance that your dog is welcome, exercised beforehand to help him settle down when you get there, take a bit of his bedding, water bowl, own food, toy etc.  If he needs medication, check you have enough whilst you are travelling on holiday.  Have emergency vet numbers for the area with you in case you need them.  Check that his vaccinations are up to date as some areas in SA are prone to higher risks of rabies, parvo virus etc.  A quick checkup at the vet before travelling will ensure your pooch is vaccinated and up to date for the areas to which you are taking him or her.

Leaving him behind:

Have you organised a trustworthy family member or friend to look after & feed, water, exercise and care for your pet while you are away. Leave all contact details & vet emergency numbers with them. Have you checked him into a reputable boarding facility in advance- they get booked up very quickly- you wouldn’t leave booking accommodation for yourself or child to last minute, so don’t do the same with your furry family member!

Remember, your dog is part of the family too, so make sure he feels comfortable and is safe at all times!