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Life with Pets

How to Have a Happy, Healthy Holiday Season with Your Dog

From interrupted routines to temps that freeze, the holiday season can be challenging for dogs. Keep yours happy and healthy this winter with these 3 tips.

The holidays can be a hectic time of year. There’s a lot of added hustle and bustle as family and friends gather to celebrate the season.

As a result, your dog’s routine may be impossible to keep.

Just like people, dogs react differently to changes in schedule and environment. But here are a few ways you can keep your pup happy and healthy over the holidays.

Woman walking her dog with snowy mountains in the background

Calm and De-Stress Your Dog with Exercise

One of the best things you can do to help keep your dog from feeling overwhelmed during these busy days is make sure she gets plenty of exercise.

Taking your dog for regular walks will help her 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 she returns home.

Just as important as physical exercise is mental stimulation. Food puzzles and toys can keep dogs 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 her 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 she needs a break. So, have a designated place in mind where you can take her when she needs a timeout.

Dog begging at the table

Keep Holiday Feasts Well Out of Your Dog’s Reach

If your dog is normally food-motivated, she may go into overdrive during the holidays when there is an abundance of food around.

Low tables are never a safe places to leave snacks unattended. But even dining tables and counters can be fair game for a dog determined to partake in the holiday meal. Don’t underestimate your dog’s ability to help herself when turkey and gravy are involved.

These food heists not only disrupt your dinner (and cut into your leftovers) but also 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. And fatty foods—or just too much food in general—can upset dogs’ tummies or, worse, cause pancreatitis and a trip to the vet.

Dog playing in snow

Protect Your Pup from Colder Weather

If you’re traveling to a snowy destination this holiday (or live in one yourself), 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 more vulnerable to cold weather.

If your dog has a thin, short coat, short legs that keep her close to the cold ground, or minimal body fat to keep her warm, it’s a good idea to put her in a coat (or holiday sweater!) when she’s outside.

And brachycephalic breeds, such as Boston Terriers, Pugs and French Bulldogs, may need extra attention. 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 which her ancestors came—can help you better understand how she might handle cold temperatures. Testing your dog’s DNA can help uncover these insights and more.

So, if you haven’t already, consider grabbing a Wisdom Panel™ kit today.