How the festive season impacts on your pets

May 19, 2022 8:08:51 AM

Whilst it’s true that the Christmas period might mean your dog has more attention than usual, it can also be a bewildering time for him with several important factors to consider before you even think about pulling the first cracker!

 Dogs, of course, don’t know what the festive season is but they do understand patterns of behaviour and routines. During this time it’s likely that you’ll have more people in your home and spirits will be a little higher, louder and more convivial. Of course Christmas is different in every household so we’re generalising a little to make some good points. You’ll see these mostly hinge on keeping things as close to normal as you can for your pets.

 Christmas dinner

Try and stick to your dog’s everyday dietary routine. This is traditionally a time for human excess but that shouldn’t extend to your pets who only need their usual amount of food. By all means you can give treats and even a little festive turkey if you’d like to but be mindful of your dog’s constitution and don’t stray too far from what is normal for them to eat.   

 You can make it Christmas every day for your dog by introducing them to our grain-free turkey and vegetable recipe. It’s really good for all dogs including those with allergies and intolerances. It doesn’t come complete with mince pies though!

 It’s a strong no to chocolate

This leads us to the subject of treats. There are a few things that are advisable to avoid feeding to your dog - with the number one being chocolate. Dark chocolate, cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the worst offenders as they contain a high level of theobromine which is a toxic stimulant for dogs (like dog caffeine). If your dog has had a 70% bar of dark chocolate, for example, that could be very serious.

 VetsNow has created an online toxicity calculator which is a good guide but always rely on your instincts and contact your vet immediately for advice. You can access the calculator here (link:

 A nice idea is to bake some dog-friendly treats instead so you know they’re being fed good, wholesome ingredients and enjoying a Christmas indulgence at the same time. There are plenty of online recipes – try or for some inspiration.

 Do my paws look big in this?

If your dog enjoys the attention of a cute festive outfit and is really happy in it, then why not? However it’s not for everyone, particularly those with larger breeds, so we’d recommend a lovely seasonal collar or bandana as an easier way to add some Christmas spirit. That way, you can spread some Santa magic whilst still keeping your pet comfortable.

 Keeping it real

With lots going on it’s important to keep your dog feeling secure and following a similar routine to any other day. Of course you can be flexible but if your pet is used to two meals and two walks a day it’s best to stick to that if you can.

 Also, in terms of walks, keep to your regular distance unless you know your dog can take the annual family Boxing Day trek in its stride!

 Noise awareness

Some dogs thrive on a lively atmosphere but other more timid characters might be really unsettled by the different sounds of the festive period, particularly fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Just be mindful of how yours is behaving and take care to minimise exposure to loud, unexpected noise. A cosy place to sleep with a low volume radio playing soothing music can really help, especially if you go out and leave your dog behind on New Year’s Eve.

 Let it snow

If we’re lucky enough to enjoy a white Christmas, be sure to film your dog as she ventures out into snow, especially if it’s for the first time. Dogs, timid at the outset, usually show great joy as they play, prance and roll in snow – it’s fantastic to witness. Be ready with a warm towel and bring them inside before they get too cold – unless you have a Husky of course!

 Enjoy some down time

The festive period provides the best excuse to catch up on old movies and it’s the ideal opportunity for your dog to curl up with you and enjoy some relaxing, quiet time. They might not understand the concept of Christmas or the plot of The Sound of Music, but they’ll understand the security and calm of being with you.

And then it’s January

Before you know it, the kids are back at school, work looms and your dog will be left in peace. Be mindful that it’s a transition for him to be left again, even if it’s not for long. Some dogs are more affected than others so if yours needs some reassurance, set up their safe sleeping place, put the trusty radio on low and leave them something to do while you’re out.

 If they’re especially needy, you might prefer to lead up to longer periods of time before the return to work begins – we have a whole article on this here (

 Enjoy the days (and weeks!) of celebrations but spare a thought for your dogs, especially puppies who may not have previously had the full-on social experience due to lock down restrictions.




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