The holidays are a hectic time of year. There’s a lot of added hustle and bustle as family and friends gather to celebrate the season, and your dog’s regular routine may be impossible to keep. Just like people, dogs react differently to changes in schedule and environment, but luckily there are things you can do keep your pup happy and healthy during the holidays.
Reduce Stress with Exercise and Calm Spaces
One of the best things you can do to help keep your dog from feeling overwhelmed during these busy days is make sure they get plenty of exercise. Getting them outside for regular walks will help them burn off energy (and you’ll probably benefit from the fresh air as well). A dog that’s tired from a trip to the park or a game of fetch is more likely to curl up and rest when they return home.
Just as important as physical exercise is mental stimulation. Food puzzles and toys can keep your dog occupied and give them something to focus on other than the added activity in the home.
If you know your dog is anxious around guests, make sure you give them a quiet place to hang out away from the action. But even if your dog is a social butterfly, there will likely be a point when they need a break. Have a designated place in mind that you can take them when they need a time-out.
Keep an Eye on Holiday Feasts
If your dog is food motivated in general, they may go into overdrive during the holidays when there is an abundance of food around. It goes without saying that low tables are not safe places to leave snacks unattended. But don’t underestimate your dog’s ability to help themselves when things like turkey and gravy are involved. Dining tables and counters can be fair game for a dog determined to partake in the holiday meal. Not only do these food heists disrupt your dinner (and cut into your leftovers), they can put your pup’s health at risk. Chocolate or sweets that contain xylitol can be toxic to your dog, as can certain common ingredients such as garlic and onions. Fatty foods—or just too much food in general—can upset their tummies or, worse, cause pancreatitis and a trip to the vet.
Be Prepared for Winter Wonderlands
If you’re traveling to a snowy destination this holiday, make sure your dog is prepared for the chilly weather. Some dog breeds, such as Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and Chow Chows, have thick coats that protect them from the elements, but other breeds are much less tolerant in cold weather. If your dog has a thin, short coat, short legs that keep them close to the cold ground or minimal body fat to keep them warm, it’s a good idea to put them in a coat (or holiday sweater!) when they’re outside. And brachycephalic breeds such as Boston Terriers, Pugs and French Bulldogs may need extra attention, as their short noses and flat faces can make it difficult for them to breathe in extreme weather. Knowing your dog’s breed background—and the climates from where their ancestors came—can help you better understand how they might handle cold temperatures. Testing your dog’s DNA can help uncover these insights and more, so if you haven’t already, get a WISDOM PANEL™ kit today!