Let’s face it—holidays are a stressful time of year. We’re hosting and attending parties, trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on our list, maybe planning a road trip or flight to visit far-away loved ones. And if all this is stressful for us, what about our dogs? Dogs are, along with us, probably the most adaptable animals on the planet. But like us, they have their limits.
So…what can you do to make your dog’s holiday season as happy and stress-free as possible? As with any time where your dog’s routine is being disrupted, spending lots of downtime with your dog, away from activities, will help, as will routine exercise and activity. Paula Baker-Prince, our Director of Training, also suggests providing fresh mental challenges for your dog, such as a new puzzle toy, to help your dog relax.
One thing to avoid at all times of the year, but especially during the holidays, is treating your dog to overly rich or toxic foods. Dog First Aid 101 has a complete list of toxic foods for dogs, but there are a few that are especially common this time of year. Dark chocolate is a biggie that most people know about. Less well-known are foods and spices like nutmeg, raisins, onions, garlic and macadamia nuts. The last thing either you or your dog want or need is a trip to the emergency vet after snacking on a holiday beef log!
And don’t forget about fireworks. Growing up in northern Indiana, I never associated New Year’s Eve with fireworks—sitting outside and watching them is a lot less fun when it’s below freezing—but here in Austin we’re blessed with warmer weather and some great displays. Unfortunately, many dogs are very afraid of fireworks. For mild anxiety, an herbal relaxant such as Rescue Remedy or Dog ‘n’ Kitty Calm (available for sale at DogBoy’s) might help. If you feel your dog might need something stronger, talk to your vet about a prescription sedative.
What if you are taking a long car trip with your dog? If you’ve ever had a dog in the car, odds are good that you already know they can get car sick just like people. And just like people, one remedy can be limiting visual cues that may contribute to motion sickness—chiefly by having them face forward. Opening the windows a little can help too, as can the Through A Dog’s Ear series of CD’s—they’re also available at DogBoy’s and there’s even a special car edition. For stronger remedies it’s best to consult your vet. And if you’ll be spending any time in a hotel, sites such as DogFriendly.com and Yelp.com are excellent resources for planning where to stay.
And finally, DogBoy’s is here to help. Other than over Christmas, we have plenty of room to board your dog overnight during holiday parties or in daycare to help them blow off some steam. And for some serious stress relief, you can always schedule a massage session here at Chelsea’s Place with certified pet masseuse Christina Hardinger. Your dog will thank you!
And whatever you do—and however you celebrate—we wish all our two- and four-legged family and friends a most joyous holiday season!