Keep your dogs safe this Christmas

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AS the festive period gets underway Coleraine Borough Council is offering helpful holiday safety tips for dog owners on how to help keep their dogs safe and sound during the holidays.

Dog owners need to take special care to keep their four-legged friends safe and warm this Christmas.

Dog Warden, Nuala Houston from Coleraine Borough Council had this advice; “when planning for this holiday season’s festivities, it is important to keep your dogs in mind. While most of us welcome the smells, sights, sounds as well as lots of people of the season, holidays can also be chaotic, especially for our dogs.

“The Holiday season can interrupt a dog’s routine and create stress in some dogs. But by following our common-sense, easy tips, the holiday season can be cheery for everyone, including the family dog.

“Christmas lights and electrical cords should be tucked away. Chewing or biting anything electrical can cause shock or burns. Never leave candles unattended as dogs are curious; a lit candle knocked over by a swinging tail can burn your pet or cause a fire.

“Everyone likes to indulge over Christmas; rich fatty foods can upset a dog’s tummy, causing minor symptoms such as an upset stomach or as severe as diarrhoea. Dogs should not be allowed to eat grapes or raisins, chocolate or poultry bones. Bones easily splinter, and the bone shards can cause choking, get stuck in a dog’s gums or possibly damage his intestines. Instead, treat your dog to “dog bones” specifically designed for him to chew on and can be sourced at any reputable pet store.

“Poinsettias, are one of our favourite festive plants of choice over the Christmas period, although not poisonous, it may cause stomach upset if eaten. At Christmas, there may be lots of people visiting and this can dramatically increase a dogs stress levels. Allow your dog some time out in a quiet area.

“Council also request that owners ensure your dog always displays a collar with an identify tag and most importantly, ensure your dog is micro-chipped with owner details that are correct and up to date. Don’t leave your dog outside unsupervised without shelter, just because a dog has fur does not mean that it can withstand the cold harsh winter conditions. Breeds such as huskies are suited to cold weather. Small dogs such as Chihuahuas and whippets that have little fur may benefit from dog clothing. Reports to Council of dogs being left out in extremely cold weather over winter can result in an investigation, leading to a prosecution if the owner is found guilty of not having a licence, neglect or cruelty. A dog’s normal body heat should be about 38C – 39.2C and should not be left out in the cold but should be kept warm with shelter. Always keep fresh water available at all times, and never give your dog frozen water.

“We would also recommend that dogs are not allowed to walk across ice or eat snow, as there are so many chemicals which could be hidden beneath the ice that can cause stomach pains and sickness. Antifreeze is extremely toxic to dogs. Its tastes good to pets but small amounts can kill them so please keep it in a safe place and away from dogs! Also, watch out for deicers such as rock salt when taking your dog for a walk. They can not only irritate your dog’s paws, but can be toxic if your dog licks it. Make sure to rinse and dry your dog’s paws when you get home.”

Look after your pet as one of the family. For anyone wishing to give a dog a loving home, Council’s re-homing centre for dogs is available in the Borough and can be contacted through Margaret Graham in Articlave – telephone 028 7084 8011. For more information please contact a dog warden at Coleraine Borough Council on 028 7034 7171 or visit