With the start of the Christmas holiday season, it is important to plan to ensure your dog and guests will be comfortable and happy.
My suggestions for holiday preparations:
1. Start your housecleaning preparations now. A room at a time is fine and don’t forget to vacuum along the skirting boards (base boards for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere). This is where dust and pet hair gather.
2. Air the house out on a regular basis and avoid using chemical air fresheners. Your dog has a very sensitive nose and these products are too strong. Try sprinkling baking soda over your carpet before vacuuming. This is an excellent way of deodorising carpets.
3. If you must ‘freshen’ the air with something, try using an aromatherapy burner with only a drop of lavender oil. Again, it is important not to offend the sensitive nose of your dog. Don’t forget to watch for your dog’s reactions. If they get up and leave the room, it is probably too strong a scent for them.
4. Book your dog in for a grooming now. It is unfair to expect groomers to fit in dogs at the last minute – and just like your hairdresser – they do book up.
5. Remind your guests and family that your dog is not a garbage can. They should not be fed lots of table scraps because this can upset their tummy and lead to smelly problems to pick up later. Plan to give your dog a maximum of 1-2 treats per day throughout the holiday season.
6. Some dogs can become overwhelmed with the changes to their home environment with decorations popping up, guests coming and going, and parties that last into the night. Make a private spot for your dog now such as a spare bedroom or a crate. If they look stressed, put them in their quiet place with a favourite toy for company.
7. If you are planning to travel, you should have a kennel booking by now. Check to ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date and if not, make an appointment with your vet without delay. Like groomers, vets are very busy in the pre-Christmas period and you cannot expect them to have appointments available at short notice.
Christmas is for family and that includes the dog in your life. With a little preparation now, you will both have a happy and safe holiday season.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand