Holiday Safety for your Dog

With extended daylight hours and warmer weather, summer with a dog can be great fun. But with the fun comes a few added risks all dog owners need to be aware of.  

Top Five Christmas Dangers

  1. Cooked bones and Christmas lunch. While it is nice to include our pets in family occasions, be careful not to feed your dog leftovers from Christmas lunch or dinner. Both cooked and uncooked meat and can cause canine pancreatitis. Cooked bones are also dangerous, as they are very brittle and can easily get stuck in your dog’s windpipe or stomach. You should also avoid feeding your dog chocolate or Christmas pudding as both have ingredients that are toxic to dogs. If you want to treat your dog, choose dog-friendly snack from your vet or supermarket.
  2. Decorations and wrapped gifts. Dogs are notorious for ripping open presents well before Christmas day.  This can be not only frustrating for pet owners, it can be dangerous to pets, exposing them to substances and food that is harmful to them. If your dog is likely to be attracted to presents under the Christmas tree, you may need to hold off putting them out until Christmas Eve.
  3. Power cords and Christmas lights. A playful puppy or dog can chew right through to the wires of electrical cords within minutes. To keep your dog safe around your Christmas lights, keep cords tidy and out of sight from your pets. Most hardware stores sell cord tidies to help with this.
  4. Other dogs.  In the warmer months, we tend to spend much more time outside with our dogs at beaches, parks and friends’ houses. While socialising is great for your dog, it also increases their risk of catching infections and contagious diseases from other dogs. Before Christmas, get your dog’s vaccinations up to date and get a quick health check from your vet. This will ensure both yours and other people’s dogs will have a healthy and safe summer.
  5. Travel dangers. If you are travelling with your dog this summer, it’s a good idea to become informed about new insects, plants and allergens that your dog might be exposed to. In the warmer states, dogs are particularly susceptible to animals such as snakes, stingers, cane toads and jellyfish. Before setting off on your trip, contact a vet in the area you are travelling to and find out potential risks, common parasites and recommended vaccinations or medications.

Fighting the Fireworks Fears

If your dog panics during storms, it’s likely he or she will also be terrified of fireworks, which can spell trouble on New Year’s Eve. Unlike storms, however, fireworks are usually scheduled and predictable, which means you can prepare your dog in advance.


  • Feed your dog a good meal, rich in carbohydrates and added vitamin B6. This will help keep him or her settled.
  • Keep your dog in a confined area with their favourite things, such as their dog bed, toys and water bowl.
  • Play gentle music or background noise (such as TV) for at least an hour prior to the fireworks. This will get them used to the environment before the fireworks.


  • As the noise begins, gradually increase the volume of the music or TV until it has blocked out most of the sound.
  • If your dog barks or becomes distressed, avoid punishment/reward, as this will only confirm to your dog that the situation is frightening.
  • If your dog’s anxiety is extreme, short-term use of sedatives may be required. It’s important you only use medication under the direction of a vet.

Boarding your Dog

If you are boarding your dog this Christmas, you may want to start your research early as many facilities book out well in advance. Choosing a kennel can come down to a number of factors including location, suitability and price. As your dog will be in close proximity with other dogs, it’s critical you choose a kennel that mandates vaccinations. This will decrease the chance of either your dog or others contracting diseases.

Recommended Vaccinations for Boarding

The recommended minimum requirement for dogs going to kennels is the C5 vaccination. This provides immunity against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza and a bordatella (which causes kennel cough).

C5 vaccinations are usually given over a 2-3 week course and immunity can take days or weeks to develop afterwards. Consult your vet for more information.