Christmas tips to keep your dog happy

Christmas is an exciting time for catching up with family and friends, exchanging gifts, enjoying delicious food and drink, and maybe even having a visit from Santa! From Christmas trees and decorations, silly hats and crackers, there are lots of different ways to celebrate and have a great time.

Unfortunately there are lots of Christmas things which aren't great for dogs, or may even be dangerous. Here are a few top tips to keep your fur baby safe and happy during the festive season

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While we look forward to yummy food and drink over the festive season, there are lots of things we eat at this time of year which can be harmful or poisonous to dogs. It's important to make sure your dog doesn't get the chance to snaffle up your food, as you don't want a trip to the vets on Christmas day.

Foods to watch out for are:

  • Raisins, currants, grapes and sultanas are all incredibly toxic to dogs and can cause kidney failure. All these are likely to be in your Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and mince pies, so keep them away from your four-legged friends
  • Chocolate: contains a chemical called theobromine which is poisonous to dogs and other animals. The darker the chocolate is, the more theobromine it contains and therefore the more poisonous it is likely to be. Keep your chocolate coins, tree chocolates and advent calendars safe and out of reach.
  • Bones: cooked bones become brittle and splinter easily, so you should never give a cooked bone to your dog. Make sure you dispose of the bones by taking it to an outside bin, so your dog isn't tempted to raid the kitchen bin in the night!

This is not a full list and you should always check before giving any new food to your dog!


Many of the plants we associate with Christmas and use to decorate our houses can also be toxic to dogs and may cause vomiting or illness. Make sure your decorations are out of reach and tied up securely so that they can't fall down. These plants include:

  • Poinsettia
  • Holly
  • Mistletoe
  • Ivy
  • Christmas tree needles
  • Pot pourri - may be a choking hazard or cause a blockage in the gut (pinecones or bark)


One of my favourite parts of Christmas is putting up the Christmas tree - but there are lots of things that could be harmful to your dog. Putting a playpen around the tree means you can enjoy the magic of your tree without worrying your dog will get his paws on anything he shouldn't! Just a few things your dog should avoid around the Christmas tree:

  • Tinsel and ornaments look like great things to chew, but could cause damage to your dog's gut if he eats them
  • Tree chocolates - chocolate is poisonous to dogs!
  • Lights - may give an electric shock if chewed
  • Presents - just because the present is wrapped, doesn't mean your dog can't smell all the yummy sweets and chocolates! Parcels may also contain batteries and silica gel sachets which could cause obstructions if chewed or eaten.


Your dog may not be used to having lots of people around, and Christmas is a time when everyone comes together to celebrate. If he isn't used to having other people in the house, invite a few friends around beforehand so he can experience having other people there, and get used to there being more noise and activity than usual.

Make sure he has a den or safe space where he can hide - if he has a crate, this could be as simple as putting blankets over the crate to create the den. It's also important to make sure that family members, particularly smaller ones, know that if he is in his safe space, he should be left alone to chill out.


Make it fun for your dog this Christmas by creating some enrichment activities for him to take part in. This could be:

  • buy or make a snuffle mat and hide treats in it for him to sniff out
  • fill a Kong with his favourite foods
  • use a lickimat spread with peanut butter (make sure the peanut butter does not contain xylitol which is poisonous to dogs)

Do you have any tips on keeping your dog safe, happy and entertained during the Christmas period? Share them below in the comments!


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