Home for the Howlidays: Survival tips, treat recipes and more

There’s no place like home for the howlidays…until it gets crazy, that is.  If you’re like us, one of your favorite things to do this time of year is throw on some warm PJ’s, settle in with a good book or movie, and pretend like your shopping expedition to the mall never happened.  If we get stressed, it’s no surprise that the holiday season is stressful for our pets too.  From a house full of guests, new and potentially unhealthy foods to be tempted by, and generally being a little off their game, here are some tips on keeping Fido calm and collected this Christmas.

Crate Training 

A dog’s crate can be its best friend and a much needed safe haven from all the hustle and bustle.  Crate training is actually quite easy if broken down into easy to manage steps (and be sure to use lots of positive reinforcement and treats!).  Unlike the crates of yesteryear, there are some cool ways you can incorporate these pet-friendly spaces into your home without it screaming “crazy dog person”.  The Humane Society of the United States has some helpful tips on training here, but this is the gist:

  • Keep the training short and sweet to start off.  Lure Fido in by dropping some high value treats inside, give them tons of praise if he goes in and allow him to come right back out.  We shouldn’t have to say this, but we will: People, do not force your dog into the crate, use it as punishment or leave them in there all day.
  • Transition to feeding meals in the crate and close the door while they eat.
  • Gradually increase the time spent in their crate and continue to give praise and biscuits.  The crate is a happy place, right?

If you notice your dog getting stressed, check out some of the most common signs here, make sure their crate is in a quiet location and tuck them in.  Caveat: Some dogs don’t like crates.  At all.  A bathroom, bedroom or some other confined, secure space can make a huge difference though.  Make sure they have a cozy bed to curl up in, and some classical music can help too – there are even dog specific soundtracks on Spotify you can play.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland 

Daily exercise – good for us and good for our pets.  Studies show that having a pet helps to lower blood pressure, manage anxiety and depression, and when you add walking or running into the equation, it’s a win-win! According to PetMD, most dogs should get 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise each day.  This of course varies by breed, age, health concerns, etc and can be anything from chasing a ball, nosework, playing with a flirt pole (our Great Dane LOVES this), or an indoor game of hide & seek – you’re looking to get the heart rate up a bit and also some mental stimulation.

For regions that see snow and ice, please keep in mind that it’s really important to protect those sweet feet.  Grooming the fur in and around the pads will help prevent ice from forming which can lead to chapping and even cracking.  You can make or purchase paw balm to prevent and heal those cracks, or go all out and buy a snazzy pair of booties.

We love the Freedom No-Pull Harness for our office dogs; it has the traditional loop on the back and also one on the front which is helpful when walking a dog who would prefer to be dragging you.  The additional pressure (safely distributed) across the front of the chest slows them down significantly.  It also features a velvety soft lining on the inside to help prevent chafing on their delicate undercarriages.

Scooby Snacks 

‘Tis the season for counter surfing! Unfortunately, this is a busy time of year at emergency vet clinics.  Pancreatitis from overindulging, choking from a bone, eating poisonous plants or chocolate – the holidays can be downright dangerous.

You can help keep your pet satiated with some healthy, easy-to-make treats and dog food toppers.  Here are a few favorites:

Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream (you could eat it too!)

Slow Cooker Dog Food

Bacon & Peanut Butter Glazed Biscuits 

Turmeric & Fish Treats 

And some breath fresheners after indulging in those fish treats…Frosty Breath Dog Treats

 

Here’s to a healthy, happy, stress-free (or at least manageable) holiday season! Woof woof! 

 

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