12 Tips of Christmas

Everyone has heard of the 12 Days of Christmas… well I decided to have some fun with it, and use each ‘day’ as inspiration for giving you an important safety and sanity tip for this year’s holiday season.  

I’m certainly not a doom-and-gloom kinda person, however, just like we teach in Pet First Aid… prevention and knowledge is always key to having confidence and in keeping your pet healthy for your long life together.

I hope you enjoy how I managed to make each tip correlate (some… very loosely) with the traditional 12 days of Christmas.

I present to you… the 12 Tips of Christmas… 

12 Drummers Drumming – Loud music, different smells, visitors, bright shiny objects… there are so many things ‘not-normal’ this time of year.  Try your best to keep you pet’s routines as close to normal as you can.  Take your regular walks, feed the regular diet at normal times, do what you can to lessen the stress of all the change. (This will help you too!)

11 Pipers Piping – Tobacco products are toxic to your pets too, so if you have guests who will be partaking in these vices, be sure to give them a specific place to ‘butt-out’ so there’s no chance of your dog ingesting these poisons.

10 Lords-a-Leaping – well maybe it will be kids leaping – pets need to be supervised at all times with kids, even if they are used to them.  Plus, it’s simply a ‘must’ to teach kids to be calm around pets and that “pets don’t like hugs and kisses.”

9 Ladies Dancing – Whatever your celebration, perhaps your pets may need a break from the hustle and bustle, so provide some quiet time in a back bedroom.  As well, many pets go missing during the holidays.  Your guests may not be as careful with your doors as you are.

8 Maids a Milking – Egg Nog often has alcohol added.  Alcohol and many other drinks such as coffee and tea can be toxic for your pets.  Glasses left at ‘pet-height’ can be just too irresistible.

7 Swans a Swimming – No ‘swimming’ through the garbage.  There are things in the garbage that your pet may have never seen or smelled before… and boy, it smells good… irresistible in fact!  Foil, meat-soaked strings from roasts and plastic wrap are only a few of the dangers.  Secure the garbage cans, put behind closet doors or put baby-locks on the cupboards.

6 Geese a Laying – Be aware of where you ‘lay’ down your presents and what is inside of them, as well as how attractive it looks to your pet.  If you bring home a wrapped gift that you don’t know it’s contents, tuck it away from your pets’ reach.  Every year, hundreds of pets, especially dogs, are taken to hospital due to ingestion of things like chocolate, macadamia nuts, coffee, artificial sweetner xylitol and other toxins, or ribbons, plastic wrappers, children’s toys, and other potential causes of blockages or internal damage.

5 Golden Rings – Ornaments can look just like chew-toys and are often made of glass.  Tinsel strands, and strings of popcorn or candies, must be placed with care or avoided altogether.  Don’t assume they will leave them alone… changes to their home can be too much for them to ignore. Place high up on tree, and out of pets reach.

4 Calling Birds – ‘Calling out’ or training may need to be put on hold.  It is very likely that with all the commotion, energy and emotions of the season, that your pet will not respond to you the way they normally do.  Although boundaries and basic manners are still important, perhaps consider setting yourself up for success (and less frustration) by lowering your standards, until things are back-to-normal.

3 French Hens – The ‘bird’ you have for dinner, has bones… which your pet will love… however cooked bones (especially bird bones) are never a good idea.  They tend to splinter and can cause choking, and even internal damage while eating.

2 Turtle, Doves – or other new pets – Although Christmas can be great time for a new addition to the family, as long as everyone is in agreement, care must be taken to introduce the new family member properly.  Search the internet for some suggestions, or speak to your dog trainer or animal behaviour specialist to set yourself up for success.  Also, remember that you can’t expect your pet to lovingly welcome all canine and feline guests in ‘their’ home.  Exercise extreme caution in introducing guest’s pets whom they haven’t met before, and make sure they are supervised at all times.

1 Well attached Christmas Tree – cats love to climb and running dogs can knock it over.  Attach the tree to the wall, or have a table-top version.  For live trees, be sure to clean up the needles daily, so curious pets won’t want to eat them… very pointy so they can be dangerous.

Wishing you and your entire family, 2 legged, 4 legged, furry, feathered and finned, a wonderful holiday season. Stay safe and spread the love!

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Cheryl Orletsky, the DogGuru, is the author of the forthcoming book “My Dog Just Won’t Listen To Me”. She is also the founder of the Dog Manners System™ and the Certified Pet Care Professional™ system, proven step-by-step programs, that shows you exactly how to understand and change your dog’s behaviour and for pet pros, to be confident & trained to be working in the pet care industry! To get your FREE subscription to her training & pet care success articles as well as workshop and course announcements, visit www.dogguru.ca.