It’s that time of year again. Christmas, and the New Year are here and it means a busy time of year for everyone. Please do not allow your hustling and bustling to take its toll on your greyhound. With some common sense planning, you should be able to spend the holidays with your pets without having to make a trip to the emergency animal hospital or to go out in the cold to search for a missing dog.
Here are some helpful hints:
First, realize that your hound(s) may not like all the activities and noise that comes with the holiday season even if you do. What you may enjoy may drive them into negative behaviors that you will have to deal with. Remember that extra lights (especially blinking and rotating) may make some dogs nervous. Lots of company and young children (when they are not used to being around people daily) may stress out a normal dog. If they need to go outside to relieve themselves, and you are too busy with company to notice the signals, you may have accidents to clean up.
Think ahead. Think of the change in routine. Set aside a quiet spot for your hound(s) to escape from the noise and confusion. Perhaps it would be time to bring out the crate or make a place in a bedroom that would provide your dog with a chance to rest when things get busy and noisy. Don’t force a dog to wear a costume, hat, garlands, etc. if it hasn’t had to wear anything in the past. It may be funny to you and your guests, but your dog may not like it at all!
If your hound is not used to being around small children, you should make sure that your guests know to keep their children away from your dog. As the old saying goes, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” You don’t want to have to apologize if your hound snaps or bites if it is awakened suddenly or pounced upon by a small child.
Check your hound’s collar for wear and tear and replace old worn out collars so they don’t break unexpectedly. Check to make sure your dog is wearing some form of identification. If you don’t use collars indoors, please use a tag collar. Make sure that your dog is not at the door when company arrives so that it doesn’t accidentally get loose. In fact, it’s a good idea to put a sign on your outside gates and doors warning guests that you have a pet inside! There are great, reasonably-priced signs available on line that you can buy.
Keep harmful items out of the reach of your hound. If you get busy while decorating your house, make sure that anything you don’t want your hound to get hold of should be put up out of reach. Keep food out of reach as well. Make sure that all food is picked up from the tables after meals and hot pots are removed from stove burners. The rule should be: no food and/or decorations within chewing, nibbling, pulling-over distance!
Did you know that a lot of plants that people decorate with at Christmas time are harmful to hounds? Keep poinsettias, mistletoe, amaryllis, and narcissus high and out of reach. Put avocados, chocolate, almonds and apricots away. Keep cooked turkey and chicken bones away from your hound. They can puncture the intestines. At a minimum, all of these items can make your hound sick. Alcohol should not be a part of your pet’s celebration of the holidays.
Keep a bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide on hand. Make sure it is a fresh bottle and that it still bubbles. This is one of the most important items you can have in your emergency first aid kit. If you suspect that your hound has eaten something harmful, a dose of HP will cause vomiting. Before you start dosing, though, make sure you have the dose right and that vomiting is the appropriate treatment. Keep the number on your refrigerator for the SPCA’s poison control center and for your vet (and an emergency veterinary clinic if you are lucky enough to have one within driving distance). This may save valuable time if you need to reach someone in a hurry.
Walk around your house and think of all the possible ways your hound could get hurt or ingest something harmful. Something as simple as your hound swallowing a long piece of thread can cause great harm if the thread wraps around the intestines. Fiberfill from a squeaky toy can get caught in the stomach or block the colon. And watch those rawhides and other treats! More dogs suffer diarrhea, stomach upsets, and blockages over the holidays by eating lots of treats that have been manufactured out of the US and have been processed with harmful chemicals. Large pieces of rawhides swallowed can also block up the digestive system. If you are uncertain about the treats your hound receives, throw them away!
If you put up a live Christmas tree, watch that your hound does not drink the water in the stand, especially if you add something to the water to help preserve the tree. If your hound exhibits behavior that is not usual, please take the time to find out what may be causing the problem. For instance, a laid back dog that suddenly starts acting like a Velcro dog may indicate that he/she is not feeling well. Learn your dog’s signals and take the time to think about what may be wrong.
If you plan to be very busy and do not want to worry about your hound, please use a pet sitter or make reservations at a kennel for your hound when you’ll be busiest.
Unfortunately, most animal adoption groups have to prepare for returns around this time of year as that is when most of the returns happen. The holidays should not be a time when frustration leads people to return their pet rather than to make the few adjustments it takes ahead of time to deal with the potential problems. We want your holidays to be happy and healthy for your dog and you!