Popularity of sharing Christmas joy with dogs soars as the Kennel Club offers advice to keep the UK’s nine million dogs stress-free and safe

Festive fun is for all the family, including furry and four-legged members. And with half a million posts on Instagram bearing the hashtags #Christmasdogsofinstagram, #dogsofChristmas or #Christmasdog, Christmas 2019 appears to have reached ‘peak dog’ – with owners embracing their dog’s inner reindeer and ensuring their four-legged friends are truly a part of all of the festivities.

It’s not Christmas without a Christmas jumper, and over 20 mainstream high street shops, from Joules to New Look, are selling matching human and dog Christmas jumpers. Elsewhere Sainsbury’s, John Lewis and Tesco are all counting down to a canine crazy Christmas with dog-friendly advent calendars.

While matching dog and human jumpers is festive and furry, the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to the health and welfare of dogs, the Kennel Club, is warning owners that dogs don’t always enjoy the same seasonal things as their two-legged counterparts.

“For dogs, Christmas is a time of year when unusual and exciting things are happening around the home – often it means there are lots of new people to meet and greet, exciting things to smell and lick, and unusual festive curiosities, making it a very tempting time for them to get up to all sorts of mischief, or feel anxious or even lonely,” said Bill Lambert, Senior Health and Welfare Manager at the Kennel Club.

“Dogs are a part of the family and of course can be involved in the celebrations, but our four-legged friends don’t always enjoy the same festivities as humans do. We want to make sure that all of the nation’s much-loved dogs have a happy, stress-free and safe Christmas.”

To share a stress-free and safe Christmas with your dog, the Kennel Club has some ‘impawtant’ tips:

All the trimmings: The foods you shouldn’t feed your dog this Christmas

Each Christmas there are thousands of cases of dogs needing veterinary treatment after stealthily stealing chocolate and other unsuitable festive treats like mince pies and stollen. With so much going on over the festive season it’s not always easy to keep an eye out, so try and keep any chocolate and other treats – from advent calendars to tree decorations - out of paw’s reach.

Owners should be wary of feeding dogs Christmas dinner leftovers, as traditional turkey, goose and chicken bones can easily splinter, particularly when cooked, causing an obstruction and possibly even piercing your dog’s tummy.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: But don’t force festive fun

Dogs can have a lot to deal with over the Christmas period - excited and noisy children, crackers banging, presents being unwrapped and lots of unfamiliar people, voices and smells.

It can be overwhelming so avoid forcing festive fun by making sure their routine isn’t disrupted – take them out on their usual walks and keep dinner time the same – and make sure they still have their usual space and bed so they can retreat and settle in their usual spot if and when they want to. Everyone is busy at Christmas with many spending more time away from home but don’t forget about your four-legged friend or leave them alone for more than four hours. Family and friends are often more than happy to keep them company.

Deck the halls: Be careful of decoration and present snaffling

Christmas decorations and presents are often just as intriguing and exciting for dogs as they are for humans. Be careful with certain festive plants - poinsettia, holly, mistletoe and ivy can cause varying degrees of stomach upset if eaten by a curious dog.

Be aware of your dog snaffling gifts that aren’t for them from under the tree. Electronic gifts and toys often contain batteries, which if chewed or swallowed by a dog can be dangerous. Similarly watch out for your dog trying to eat small toys or gifts with small parts, wrapping paper or crepe paper, Christmas decorations, including baubles and tinsel hanging from the Christmas tree, and plastic materials used for wrapping presents.

Let it snow: Steer clear of antifreeze

Care should be taken when using antifreeze products that contain chemicals which can be lethal when ingested by dogs. The sweet taste of antifreeze makes it tempting for dogs, so products should be stored in secure containers away from pets. Watch out too for dogs drinking out of puddles when it’s very cold, as often the water can be tainted with antifreeze chemicals.

Read further advice on how to have a carefree canine Christmas.