The holiday season can be a lot of fun for both the two-legged and four-legged members of the family. However, this may also be a time of great stress for your pet.
Any changes in the environment or schedule can be perceived as a threat by your pet. The combination of decorations, Christmas trees, lights, candles, food smells, multiple visitors and music represent a great deal of change, which is frightening and scary for your dog. Some dogs are more susceptible to stress than others, which is a genetic factor.
As a pet owner you can do several things during the holiday season to ease your pet's stress level:
• Poinsettia plants can be toxic to cats and dogs (other animals & birds too.)
• Mistletoe should be out of your dog's reach
• Avoid toxic decorations, such as: bubbling lights, which contain fluid that can be inhaled or ingested; snow sprays and snow flock, which can cause reactions when inhaled; Styrofoam, which poses a choking hazard; tinsel that can cause choking and intestinal obstruction; and water in snow scenes, which may contain toxic organisms, such as Salmonella
• Keep candles on high shelves. Use fireplace screens to avoid burns
• Chocolate is good for humans but for not dogs. Chocolate baking powder can be even more toxic to your pets. If your dog eats chocolate, notify your vet immediately
• Food scraps from the table are hazardous and should be avoided. Turkey skin will probably give your dog a dose of diarrhea - just what you do not want to be cleaning up over Christmas! Poultry bones should not be offered to your pet either, as they easily splinter and could become lodged in the pet's throat or perforate its intestinal tract. In case of diarrhea give your dog a high quality pro-biotic
• Have one eye on your pets at all times, especially when doors are opened/closed, because your pets can easily slip out and get lost. Make sure your dog has an identification tag
• Create a safe doggy haven by purchasing a crate. If your pet shows signs of stress, be sure to put him in the crate, which should be located in the back room (less hectic)
• Ask friends to leave their pets at home. This will eliminate competition and alleviate stress
• Don't over feed your dogs with carbohydrate cookies, but instead, use 100% freeze dried chicken treats
• Use Rescue Remedy, a Bach flower essence, available in most health stores, as a natural stress reliever.
Most importantly, be sure to exercise your dog physically and mentally, at least two times a day:
• Physically by tossing balls in the backyard and taking walks
• Mentally by doing obedience training commands like sit, stay, come, down. Remember, a tired dog is a good dog. A good dog is stress and problem free.
Vladae Roytapel is the Russian Dog Wizard from SoCal Dog Training in Newport Beach. He has been featured on the David Letterman Show, CNN, Fox and more major news outlets. He can be reached at 949-274-3445 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more tips and secrets from the Russian Dog Wizard, visit www.socaldogtraining.com