What's the best way to dog-proof your home at Christmas?

What dog hazards should you be looking out for over the festive period?

Getting a new dog is a lot of fun but also a big responsibility, and as with any new arrival into your home, you need to ensure the environment is safe and the boundaries are clear. If you’re one of the many families welcoming a new puppy to your home this Christmas, or if you want to make sure your dog isn’t responsible for tearing up your decorations, we’ll provide you with some handy tips to dog-proof your home over the festive period!

Watch what they eat

One of the biggest challenges with dogs is that they will often chew or eat anything they can - even if those substances end up being dangerous. As you would with a toddler, go around your house securing any areas which present potential hazards. If you have any toxic cleaning products or substances which would not agree with a dog, either move them to higher shelves where they are inaccessible or use a child-proof lock to keep the cupboard doors shut.

Remember that some foods that we may not think of as being toxic can actually be lethal for dogs.  For many of us, Christmas means chocolate! Sadly, chocolate is one such food that is yummy for people but dangerous for dogs.

Why is chocolate bad for dogs?

Chocolate contains theobromine. Unlike humans, dogs find it difficult to break down theobromine and it can be toxic. This could lead to problems with your dog’s digestion system and their kidneys. Be sure to keep your dog away from your chocolatey treats over the festive period to avoid what could be a costly trip to the vets.

What other Christmas dangers are there for dogs?

It’s not just chocolate that you should keep out of reach of your dog. At Christmas, there are a number of other hazards that could pose a risk to the wellbeing of your dog, such as:

    · Christmas pudding

The traditional Christmas pud divides a lot of people, but dogs are definitely not fans! Grapes, raisins and sultanas are all bad for dogs. A small ingestion of raisins and sultanas can be toxic for your pup.

    · Onions

If you’re thinking of feeding the dog your leftovers from Christmas dinner then think again! Onions that you may use in your gravy or in a Boxing Day bubble and squeak can be harmful to dogs. Onions and garlic can be toxic to dogs and cause damage to their red blood cells.

    · Mistletoe

The berries found on your mistletoe can result in your dog having a very poorly tummy. If you have mistletoe in your home, keep it well out of the reach of pets, or in a different room altogether.

    · Alcohol

If there’s lots of alcohol around your home this Christmas, then this needs to be kept away from your dogs. While too much booze isn’t good for humans, even a little bit of alcohol can make your dog ill. Vomiting, hypothermia and diarrhea are the nasty side-affects of pets ingesting alcohol.

    · Silica gel

If you’re lucky, you might have a new pair of shoes or a jumper under your tree this Christmas! But just make sure that your dog doesn’t find them first. Silica gel – the little sachets that often come with new shoes or trainers – can also be toxic to dogs if eaten. Silica gel can damage your pet’s intestines and are generally unpleasant. Keep them out of reach!

Are Christmas trees safe for dogs?

You’ve spent a whole evening painstakingly decorating the Christmas tree. The tinsel is nicely framed and the angel on top is placed just right. The last thing you want is for your dog to go tugging it down!

A toppled tree shouldn’t be your only concern over Christmas. The sharp, pin-like needles can really hurt your dog’s insides if they were to eat them and they can cause a nasty stomach upset.

If this is your first Christmas with a dog and you are worried about how they’ll get on with your Christmas tree, then there are a few handy tips you can try to help:

· Don’t hang food on your tree

Dogs love finding food! By hanging food on your tree then you could be running the risk of finding a nasty surprise on Christmas morning

· Buy an artificial tree

Some people love the smell and appearance of a real Christmas tree, but they can take some maintaining and can be difficult to transport! A good quality stand can secure your artificial tree in place and you don’t have to worry about the side-affects that come with dogs eating the needles.

· Spray your tree

If your dog seems to be particularly interested in your Christmas tree, then you can buy sprays to act as a deterrent. The sprays are readily available from pet stores and supermarkets and won’t harm your dog or your tree. Bitter apple or cider apple sprays seem to work well in keeping dogs away!

Puppy proofing your home

Puppies are double the trouble but twice as cute! Check your home and garden for any narrow gaps where they might escape and always be careful when opening the door on your return if you live on a busy road. Puppies also love to chew things so your proofing may consist of putting all your best quality furniture in one room which puppy doesn't go in!

Give them an alternative

The best way to stop your dog or puppy from chewing an expensive present or a precious gift this Christmas is to give them a great alternative. If your puppy has a favourite toy, they are less likely to destroy your furniture or eat something inappropriate.

Besides, it is Christmas after all so your dog deserves a toy!

Make them feel safe

Your puppy will be less likely to act out if they feel safe in your home. One of the best ways to do this is to create a space that's belongs to them such as a bed, hideaway or cavern for your dog to hide in if things get a little rowdy over Christmas! Try making some room underneath a table or behind a sofa, along with some blankets to let your pup get cosy.