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Holiday Do's & Don't's for Dogs

Being a dog owner is a full time job!

It's easy to get distracted in the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season.

Here are some important things to remember about caring for your furry friends this holiday and year round!

Do keep the routines your dog is used to if at all possible! Feeding, walking and activity times are an important part of your dog's daily curriculum and abrupt changes can have a damaging effect if they are frequent. Though, dogs are very forgiving.

Don't enforce new rules without proper training. If you plan to change the household rules and behavior of your dog only in the presence of guests your dog will learn to dislike guests. If you want to train your dog to follow rules that you have set, you have to stay firm and constant with your rules. Remember that enforcing rules does not mean that you should hurt your dog whenever they don't abide the rules that you have set. Training takes time and patience.

Do provide shelter in inclement cold weather from outdoors. You should also consider the location where you want to place their shelter. There are pet owners who place their pet’s shelter inside their homes. This can provide added security to them. The size of their shelter should be appropriate with their size.

Don't hurt or frighten your dog by hitting or yelling. Hurting and inflicting fear in your dog can result in lack of trust and other emotional issues that result in violence or worse endings.

Do be sensitive to your dogs needs. Changes in environment often incur changes in your dog's needs. Keep a watchful, loving eye on your dog to ensure changes are not effecting his or her behavior.

Don't endanger your dog (or cat) with your decorations! Christmas trees can be dangerous if they can tip over or if pets can climb on them or try to play with the lights and ornaments. Consider tying your tree to the ceiling or a doorframe using fishing line to secure it. Water additives for Christmas trees can be hazardous to your pets. Do not add aspirin, sugar, or anything to the water for your tree if you have pets in the house. Ornaments can cause hazards for pets. Broken ornaments can cause injuries, and ingested ornaments can cause intestinal blockage or even toxicity. Keep any ornaments out of reach of pets. Electric lights can cause burns when a curious pet chews the cords. Make sure electrical cords are unaccessible to pets. Flowers and festive plants can result in an emergency veterinary visit if your pet gets hold of them. See a comprehensive list of plants that are toxic to dogs from the ASPCA here.

Do inform your guests in advance that you have a dog (or cat). Guests with allergies or compromised immune systems need to be aware of the pets in your home so they can take any needed precautions to protect themselves.

Don't allow guests to give your dog human food. While some human foods are acceptable for dogs, others are not and large quantities of even acceptable human foods and upset your dog's stomach. It's best to use an "all or nothing" approach when it comes to guests sharing with your dog - go with nothing. To familiarize yourself with what human foods you can share with your dog on a personal basis (rather than in a socializing setting) visit Remember dogs also need balance and a healthy diet just like humans. All the food you choose for your dog should be specifically made for them.

Do share the holiday spirit with your dog gently. You know what your dog likes and dislikes so if your dog enjoys playing dress up an ugly sweater could be loads of fun, but if your dog hates it don't force the issue. If your dog is friendly with strangers, let him or her roam the party but keep a watchful eye that he or she isn't getting into food or alcohol. If your dog isn't friendly, be smart and keep him or her in a kennel until the party is over. Be sure to watch your dog doesn't accidentally escape during the excitement by keeping exits secure and guarded.

You know what is best for your fur baby unless you are a new pet owner. If you are a new pet owner, consider taking classes at your local Petco or PetSmart.

Flash and I wish you a healthy and happy holiday season and a new year fur filled with love, Susan & Flash Gordon

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