Treating your dog this Christmas
PUBLISHED: 10:59 12 December 2016 | UPDATED: 12:19 12 December 2016
Christmas is a time to indulge, celebrate and have fun. Ardent dog lover Andrea Cowan looks at ways to include your pooch in the festivities
1.There’s no reason why your dog should miss out on the excitement of a stocking. If there is no time to put it together yourself, look out for a pre-prepared one. Four Legged Fancies, a bespoke dog bakery in Chilcompton, has a fun selection including the Toy Santa Sack which is filled with organic, handmade wheat-free treats and a squeaky, tweed toy (£17).
2.When it comes to presents under the tree, what could be better than a portrait of your pooch? Suzi Allen, an award winner for the second year running in the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) South West Pet Photographer of The Year, could tick the box. Her photographs start at £57 for a 10 inch print or, for an extra special touch, your favourite image from the session can be transformed into a painting by Suzi for £295.
3.As well as concentrating on what’s under the tree, don’t forget the decorations. Four Legged Fancies has little baubles filled with treats - choose from peanut butter, chicken or cheese (£4.50) - to hang on the tree and Doggy Christmas Crackers containing a bag of biscuits, a Christmas collar charm and a hat – and, importantly, no bang (£5.50).
4.For that pre-Christmas dinner trip to the local pub, don’t leave your pet pal behind. Some bars, such as The Crown in Wells, positively encourage dog visitors. Dogs are welcome in its Penn Bar and the front of Anton’s Bistrot and, for the first time in many years, the Bar will be open on Christmas Day. Water bowls and treats are available in the bar and dogs are welcome in the guest bedrooms too.
5. Before you hit the post-Christmas dinner slump on the sofa, how about a bracing walk? If you’re lucky enough to live in close proximity to one of Somerset’s many dog-friendly beaches, nothing can really beat a walk by the sea. Take your pick from soft sand and mud at Berrow Beach or rocky Kilve beach with plenty of rockpools to explore, or the four mile stretch of pebbles and shingle at Porlock and Porlock Weir. Love winter walks in Somerset? You might like our round-up here.
6.If it’s bitterly cold, your canine companion might appreciate an extra layer – but I’m not talking Christmas jumpers. Instead, how about a stylish coat in seasonal colours such as the Elliot Dog Coat by Billy Wolf from Houndworthy in Weston-super-Mare (£69), which is a plaid wool in dark crimson and black with a warm black Sherpa lining. They also have a range of fun bandanas your dog can wear with pride such as the Canine Superstar Bright Red Dog Bandana (from £12).
7.At the end of a long and fulfilling Christmas day with your four legged friend, make sure that he has a comfortable bed to retire to as well. The handmade Luxury Dog Bed by the family-run Somerset Willow Company is glorious. It is woven in the workshops near Bridgwater using locally grown Somerset willow. The raised bed has a timeless buff willow finish, with an ornately plaited border and comes complete with a black leather mattress, available in small, medium and large sizes (from £195 to £335.).
8.If you love the idea of having a dog in your life but just do not have the time necessary to devote to it, how about Noodle Dog from Myakka? Sitting at a satisfying height of 47cm, hand woven from seagrass with beady button eyes and nose, he will make a most amicable companion by your armchair (£49.95).
Despite all the festive fun, there are some common Christmas dangers for dogs. Katy Duncan from Watkins & Tasker Veterinary Group in Nailsea, Portishead and Yatton highlights a few:
Most people are aware of the dangers of dogs eating chocolate but it is easy to forget about chocolate decorations or wrapped boxes of chocolates left under the Christmas tree. Make sure all chocolate is kept well out of reach.
These are poisonous to dogs and the exact volume needed to cause symptoms is difficult to predict. The ingestion of grapes or raisins can cause kidney damage in some dogs. It is important to remember that raisins are found in many Christmas foods including mince pies, Christmas cake, stollen and Christmas pudding.
As we enjoy tucking into our Christmas feast we can sometimes feel guilty leaving our furry friends out of the celebrations and be tempted to offer them some of the bones from our roast. Once cooked, all bones become brittle and splinter easily leading to fragments that can cause obstructions or gut irritation. It is important to be aware that poultry bones are all hollow and splinter easily whether cooked or raw and so must never be fed to your dog. High fat meals can often cause severe stomach troubles and are one of the risk factors leading to pancreatitis.
These nuts can cause dogs to experience weakness, tremors, increased body temperature and vomiting within 12 hours of ingestion.
Christmas trees, holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are all mildly toxic to dogs and can cause a tummy upset if ingested. Decorations such as baubles or tinsel can cause a serious blockage of the intestine if eaten and should therefore be kept well out of reach.