The Holiday Season and Winter Survival Guide

Survival Guide

The holiday season can be both fun and stressful, but proper planning can help prevent the latter. Your dog can tell when you are stressed out, so it can affect her too. As the winter holidays approach, we can become overwhelmed with all the preparations that go into festivities and gift giving. However, your dog and loved ones just want you to be happy and healthy.

Holiday Safety for Dogs

Photo of Dog Staring at FoodPhoto Chris Amaral / Getty Images
First and foremost, you need to maintain a safe environment for your dog. With the holidays come new decorations, tempting foods and all kinds of trouble for a curious dog.
The holidays are all about family, friends, fun and food – but sometimes it’s easy to forget about holiday safety for your dog. We all want our dogs to be part of the celebration, but there are some important guidelines to follow.
No table scraps! Just because we humans like to indulge in the feast does not mean it is good for our dogs. Rich, fatty foods can seriously upset your dog’s stomach and even be toxic. It is especially important to keep your dog away from the following dangerous foods:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Photo © GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images

  • Onions, which can cause anemia (high levels of garlic can, too)christmas holiday dog staring at food
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • Chocolate
  • Bones (especially cooked bones and ANY poultry bones)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Any foods high in fat, sodium and/or sugar

There are some human foods that are okay for dogs.  Try a small piece of cooked turkey or chicken without skin or bones (and hold the gravy). Raw carrots and apples in moderate amounts are actually healthy for dogs. Just remember – everything in moderation.

Watch the holiday decorations! Most dogs are curious by nature, so they will want to check out any additions to the decor. Sniffing can lead to chewing, or even ingestion of foreign objects. Keep electrical cords tucked away and other decorations or holiday plants out of reach. Watch out for dangling objects that can be pulled down and cause injury. Candles should never be left unattended. Also, if you have a Christmas tree, don’t let your dog drink the tree water – it can make her sick.

Don’t let your dog get lost in the shuffle. Holiday parties and gatherings can mean lots of commotion. This might be fun for you, but not for your dog. Lots of people in your home can result in injury or stress for your dog. A large crowd is not the place for most dogs, so consider keeping her in a crate or quiet room – especially if she is the nervous type. If she is comfortable around a smaller group, just make sure you set down the ground rules with your company: don’t feed the dog and keep the doors closed! Many pets get loose and run off during the holiday season. Though your dog should always wear a collar  with current identification, this is especially important during the holiday season. Sadly, many dogs run off and become lost during the holiday season. don’t let yours be one of them.

Great Gifts for Dog Lovers

Gifts with dogs and ownerPhoto © Dennis Wise/Getty Images
Think the dog lover in your life has everything? Think again. Here is a great gift idea that should make just about any dog lover smile this holiday. If you still cannot decide what to give, do not fret. When in doubt, a gift card to the local pet supply store will be much appreciated.

1. FURminator deShedding Tool

FURminator Medium deShedding tool for dogsImage courtesy of PriceGrabber
The FURminator is a great grooming tool for anyone with a dog that tends to shed. This tool really cuts down on the amount of hair your dog sheds in your home environment. It can also prevent mats and hair buildup on your dog. This high quality grooming tool makes and excellent and generous gift.

2. Books on Dog Training

The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat MillerImage courtesy of PriceGrabber
3. Great Dog Movies

Lassie Come Home Movie PhotoImage courtesy of Pricegrabber
4. DIY Dog Training Kit

dog training giftPhoto ©

5. Pet Emergency Pocket Guide by Informed

The Pet Emergency Pocket Guide by Informed is a valuable reference that simplifies pet care by providing daily care guidelines, first aid, travel advice, emergency planning, and proper responses to pet injuries, illnesses, and emergencies.

Pet Emergency Pocket Guide - Photo of the Pet Emergency Pocket Guide by InformedImage courtesy of Informed ®
6. Sunbeam Gourmet Dog Treat MakerThis compact dog treat maker kind of works like a waffle iron, but it makes four bone-shaped cookies or cakes. Simply plug it in, preheat, pour in your own homemade batter and cook. The unit comes with a few recipes and ingredient suggestions. Because you decide which ingredients to use, you can tailor the recipe to meet your dog’s dietary needs. You can even frost the bone shaped treats with a dog-safe icing recipe. The completed treats make great gifts for dogs! This unit is simple to use and the non-stick surface is easy to clean. It’s the prefect holiday gift for a dog lover who enjoys simple baking.

Sunbeam Gourmet Dog Treat MakerImage courtesy of Sunbeam
7. Dog Magnetic Poetry

dog magnetic poetry gift ideaImage courtesy of PriceGrabber
8. Good Dog Art by Nancy Schutt

Good Dog Art by Nancy SchuttImage © Nancy Schutt
9. N2N Poop Patrol Pet Waste Dispenser and Bags

N2N Poop Patrol Pet Waste Dispenser and Bags - No Trace Waste Bags by Pet NationPhoto Courtesy of PriceGrabber
10. Book Review: Paws to Protect by Sharon Sakson

Image of Paws to Protect BookImage courtesy PriceGrabber
11. Stacey Lamothe Art

Door Knocker Wilson - Stacey LamotheImage © Stacey Lamothe
12. Brown Dog Cross-Stich Pattern

Brown Dog Cross-stitchDesign © 2006 Connie G. Thomas
13. PetBuckle Seat Belt Harness

Mazie, a Yellow Lab models PetBuckle Seat Belt Harness for DogsPhoto © Jenna Stregowski

14. Charitable Donations

Making a donation to someone’s favorite charity in their name can be a lovely gift for the right person. Plenty of people would rather have a tangible gift, so make sure you know the person well enough before choosing this gift or it could make the recipient feel slighted. However, if you know that the person is active in an organization or passionate about a specific charity, the gift will probably be well-received. Tip: If you are torn between the two, make your donation but also include a small token gift.

Top Dog Gifts

1. Dog Tornado by Nina Ottosson

Dog tornado interactive dog toy gamePhoto courtesy of PriceGrabber
Innovative and unique, the Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado is an interactive dog toy and game that is both fun and mentally stimulating for any food-motivated dog. Plus, it’s durable and easy to clean, meaning you dog can enjoy it for a long time.

2. Star Mark Everlasting Treat Ball

Everlasting Treat Ball and TreatsImage courtesy of PriceGrabber
Dogs love treats. Dog love toys. Therefore, dogs are sure to love this treat-toy combination. The Star Mark Everlasting Treat Ball is a versatile gift that will appeal to most dogs. It can be thrown for a game of fetch, be stuffed with treats, or used with Everlasting or Everlocking Treats to stimulate your dog’s mind and appetite.

3. A New Dog Bed

Donut Dog BedPhoto Courtesy of PriceGrabber
Want to get a gift your dog will use frequently and love for a long time? Try a new dog bed! With so many types of beds available, you should have no problem finding one that perfectly meets your dog’s needs and keep him comfy and cozy

4. Kong Tug Toy

Kong Tug Toy for DogsImage courtesy of
Do you know a dog who loves to play tug-of-war? The Kong Tug Tug might be the perfect gift! Its unique design makes it perfect for play between two dogs, but still ideal for dog vs. human games. Made of rubber, this toy is durable, flexible and fun for dogs and people alike.

5. Kong Dog Chew Toy

kong dog toyPhoto ©
The Kong is one of the most popular treat/food dispensing toys for dogs. Made of nearly indestructible rubber, these hollow toys are designed to provide fun and mental stimulation for dogs of all breeds and sizes. Just about any dog that loves food will enjoy a Kong.

6. Food and Treat Dispensing Dog Toys

Premier Busy Buddy Twist 'n Treat Dog ToyImage courtesy of PriceGrabber
In addition to the Kong, there are some great treat-dispensing toys out there for dogs. Food and treat dispensing dog toys should be in every dog owner’s toolbox. They offer dogs fun, mental stimulation, and a great way to burn off energy. They help relieve boredom which can alleviate a lot of common dog behavior problems, such as destructive chewing, barking, and digging.

7. Anything from

Doggyloot is a great website for dog product discovery. You can find deals on all kinds of great dog products to spoil your favorite dogs! Sign up for Doggyloot to discover new dog chews, toys, treats and more at discounted prices. Some favorite regulars include bully sticks and durable chew toys, but the products change from day to day.

Why Dogs are Not Gifts

Picture of Dog in Gift Box - Gift Dog PhotoPhoto © Andersen Ross/Getty Images
A new puppy in a bow on Christmas morning is the stuff of children’s dreams. However, this is as far as it should go. As cute as it may seem to give a new dog as a gift, it can actually be a terrible idea. Holiday gift dogs can be soon forgotten like all the new toys and gadgets. Video games and dolls are one thing, but a dog is alive and in need of attention. If someone you care about is interested in getting a dog, give a book about dog ownership or a dog accessory as a gift. After the holidays, if that person is truly ready for a dog, you can go along to pick one out.
You think you have found the perfect gift: a new puppy in a big red bow for someone you love. Surprise! Think again. While this may sound like a dream come true, it can actually be a pretty bad idea. Sure, it’s the thought that counts, but there are several reasons to avoid giving a new puppy or dog as a present. Bottom line, it’s usually not an ideal situation for the dog, nor the new owner.Dogs as Gifts for AdultsFirst of all, can you really be sure that this person even wants a new dog? If so, is the receiver actually ready for a dog? If you know this person is a dog lover, but does not already have a dog, there’s probably a good reason why. If he or she already owns a dog, perhaps it’s not the appropriate time to add another dog to the family. Talk to this person about dog ownership. Maybe you can go as moral support when the time comes to choose a dog. Either way, it’s safest to stick with gifts of the non-living and breathing variety.Dogs as Gifts for Children

The gift of a new dog or puppy is something many kids dream about. Unfortunately, most of these little ones do not realize that with dog ownership comes responsibility. Soon enough, the care of the dog can fall into the hands of mom or dad. If you are not the child’s parent, then you really have no place giving that child a new dog unless the parent(s) are on board. If you are a parent of the child, then getting a dog is a family decision. Have a discussion with your child about the responsibilities involved. Examine your household situation so you can choose the right dog for your family.

If a New Dog is Right

If the receiver of the gift is actually in a position to welcome a new dog into the home, there are still some important things to consider. Dogs given as gifts on birthdays and holidays can get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of the events. Sadly, they may be soon forgotten like new toys and games – particularly where kids are concerned. If someone you care about is interested in getting a dog, give a book about dog ownership or a dog accessory as a gift. Discuss plans to go and pick out that new dog or puppy. If the future owner of the dog is part of the decision process, it will be in everyone’s favor. It’s the best way to start dog and owner off on the right foot.

Traveling with Dogs

dog in carrier, muttPhoto © Chris Hondros / Getty Images
For many of us, the holiday season means traveling. As a dog lover, you probably want to spend holiday time with your dog. But is bringing her along always the best choice? If you do decide to travel with your dog, make sure you make all the arrangements ahead of time and cover your bases. Last minute issues are bound to crop up, but proper planning can prevent holiday disaster.
If you are planning a trip, have you considered whether or not your dog gets to come along? Do you know how to travel with your dog? Traveling with your dog can be loads of fun if you make all the right arrangements. However, poor planning can really ruin the vacation for everyone. If you think it would be best for your dog to stay behind, then look for a pet sitter or find a kennel where you can board your dog. If you have decided that your furry companion should be part of your trip, let the planning begin. Start by keeping a collar with current identification on your dog at all times. A microchip may also be beneficial for extra security. Before you travel, your dog should have basic training so he will be well-behaved during the trip. Then, plan the transportation, accommodations and daily activities. Learning how to travel with your dog can make the experience less stressful and a lot of fun!


By Air

Air travel for dogs is not always a great idea. Though canines are not cargo to us pet parents, they are usually considered such by the airlines. The cargo hold does not make for a pleasant travel experience, even for relaxed dogs. This is not to say that flying is not an option, just that it is not ideal. Small dog owners are in luck, though. Some airlines will allow you to bring your pet in a carrier if it can fit under the seat in front of you. Learn the finer details of air travel with dogs so you can be fully informed before you book a flight.

Pet-loving entrepreneurs have been developing pet-friendly airlines that may actually be affordable. One such company is Pet Airways, a pet-only (no human passengers) airline that allows pets to fly in the main cabin rather than cargo. However, these flights are only available in a limited number of cities. Until these types of airlines are more accessible, many of us will have to make do with the rules or scrape up the dough to charter a plane.

By Automobile

The automobile is usually the best way to travel with dogs. If you own a vehicle, chances are your dog has ridden in it for trips to the vets, the park and so on. If not, now is the time to start. Some dogs have anxiety over riding in cars. The more positive your dog’s automobile experiences are, the more likely he will enjoy the rides. If your dog only rides in the car for vet visits, and he dislikes the vet, his anxiety is understandable. Try taking him for short, frequent car rides that end up at the park, dog supply store (where he will get a toy or treat), or another pleasant place. If your dog does not adjust to the car, then a road trip is not a good option. If you must bring your dog for a long car ride, ask your vet about possible anti-anxiety medications that can make the trip a bit easier on everyone. Otherwise, you should seek out other options. Remember, medications should be used sparingly.

If you’ve decided that Rover can handle the trip, make sure you make all the proper arrangements.

Plan Ahead

Plot rest stops along the way while traveling with your dog, and plan to stop every 3-5 hours to allow your dog to relieve himself, drink water and stretch his legs (more or less depending on your dog’s needs). Make a list of several veterinary hospitals that are easily accessible from your route, preferably within one hour’s drive from any given point. Check that they will be open during your travel.

Giving Back: Charitable Gifts

Photo Joe Raedle / Getty Images
The holiday season is a time of giving, and many of us want to reach out and help others. While pet charities need plenty of help all year long, the holiday season is a wonderful time to get started. You can help homeless, sick and unfortunate animals by volunteering your time, donating funds and supplies, or just setting a good example. Here’s how to start giving back right now.As a dog lover, you may wonder how you can give something back to help pets in need. Our pets do so much to brighten our lives, don’t they deserve the same in return? You can help homeless, sick and unfortunate animals by volunteering your time, donating funds and supplies, or just setting a good example. Here’s how to start giving back right now.

Monetary Donations

Animal-focused charity organizations always need funds to achieve their missions. A financial donation, no matter how small, can make a major difference in the lives of animals and people. Start locally by looking into nonprofit groups in your city or state that have missions you agree with. Ideally, donate to a 501(c)(3) organization or other group that you can be sure will use the money responsibly. If you have a favorite dog breed, find a breed-specific rescue group in need of donations. Or, try your local animal shelter or rescue group. If you have friends or family members who are animal lovers, consider making a donation in their name as a gift. Or, make a donation in memory of a pet or loved one who has passed away.

Volunteer Your Time

Your time is valuable, so volunteering to help pets in need is truly a selfless act. The funny thing is that the work can end up being so rewarding that it seems like a selfish act. Whether you are rescuing an animal that you found in the street, helping a friend care for a pet, or spending your time helping out at the local shelter, you are making a difference.

To get started, contact an animal shelter or pet rescue group in your area. Find out how you can help, but know your limitations. If you overextend yourself emotionally or physically, then you are not really helping the cause in the long run. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable working directly with unfamiliar animals. That’s okay. You may be able to help by answering phones, managing the website or even licking stamps. You won’t know until you try, so start researching now. A simple web search for pet rescues or shelters in your city is a great place to begin. You can also ask your vet’s office or another pet professional to recommend reputable local organizations.

Adopt A Shelter or Rescue Dog

If you are ready for a new dog, think twice before buying one. Your local shelter or rescue group may have the perfect dog just waiting for you. If you have your heart set on a certain dog breed, find a local breed-specific rescue. Adopting one pet can save that pet and possibly others from euthanasia, but it can also create a chain reaction. Tell your friends and family about your experience, and encourage them to adopt a pet instead of purchasing one.

Not sure you want a long-term commitment, but would like a pet in your life? Animal rescue groups are always in need of good foster homes. Opening your home to a foster pet can help that pet become more socialized and accustomed to home living, making the pet more easily adoptable. Who knows, you may even find that you can adopt the pet for your own.


If you live in a region where the winters are cold, then you probably have a yearly routine to prepare yourself for the season change. You might change out your wardrobe, get your car ready for winter, and insulate your home. Don’t forget to take precautions to keep your dog warm and healthy. There are plenty of winter hazards out there, such as antifreeze and ice. Take steps to keep your dog safe! Here are some cold weather tips to you and your dog this winter:

  • Do not leave your dog outside unsupervised without a heated shelter. Just because your dog has fur, it does not mean he can withstand the cold. Though some dog breeds (like Huskies and Malamutes) are better suited to cold weather, all dogs should have access to a warm shelter at all times. Most dogs do best living indoors. However, if your dog must live outdoors, provide a heated dog bed and adequate shelter.
  • Small dogs or those with little to no hair should have sweaters or jackets for protection against the cold. Some of the most common breeds that will benefit from protective clothing are Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers, Whippets, and Greyhounds. Remember, not all dogs will tolerate clothing, so don’t push it – just make an extra effort to keep them out of the cold. Keep food and water in a place where they will not freeze – preferably inside! A heated dog bowl can help outdoor water and food from freezing.
  • Watch those feet! If your dog will tolerate it, consider foot protection booties. This can keep your dog’s feet safe from harm, such as dangerous objects hidden by the snow or salt on roads and walk ways. Additionally, booties can help give your dog a better grip and prevent slipping on ice.
  • When walking your dog near ice, use extra caution to avoid slipping. Always keep a close watch your dog and be sure he says nearby. Do not allow your dog to run across frozen bodies of water – he could fall into icy water if the ice is too thin!
  • If you use an indoor or outdoor fireplace, always keep a safety guard around it in order to protect your dog away from the flames and soot. Do not leave a fire unattended.
  • If your dog is in the cold and begins excessively shaking or shivering, get him back to warm shelter as soon as possible. If you suspect your dog is developing hypothermia, bring him to a vet immediately.
  • Avoid letting your dog eat snow or anything else on the ground. Dangerous objects or chemicals may be hidden in the snow. Also, eating snow this can cause stomach upset and even hypothermia. Always keep fresh room temperature water available at all times.
  • Beware antifreeze – It is highly toxic! Antifreeze tastes good to pets, but even a small amount can kill your dog. Though exposure to antifreeze is a risk all year, the risk is especially high during the colder months. Keep your eyes on your dog at all times – and keep antifreeze out of reach. If you suspect your dog has had ANY exposure to antifreeze, get to a vet right away.
  • In general, be sure to contact your vet if any abnormal behavior or signs of illness appear.

Did you know that your dog’s normal temperature is a few degrees higher than yours? Winter is the perfect time of year to snuggle up – so have fun and stay warm!

dino rescue flyer with colour chart

Recipe of the Month

Christmas Meat Balls for Dogs

You will need:

  • 250g turkey mince
  • A couple of medium sized potatoes (around 350g)
  • A good sized carrot (around 200g)
  • A handful of sprouts (about 250g)
  • 1 tsp of Marmite
  • 1 tsp of cranberry sauce
  • Gravy

Preheat oven to 350F/180C/gas mark 4.

Cut the carrot and potato into chunks and the sprouts in half. Fill a large saucepan with water, bring to the boil, add all the veg, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Put the turkey mince into a large frying pan with some oil and fry until brown. Drain the veg and mash roughly in a large mixing bowl. Add the turkey, mix with a wooden spoon and add the cranberry sauce and Marmite. Leave the mixture to cool then mould into walnut-sized balls. Put these onto a baking tray and pop them into the oven for about 30 minutes. Leave the mince balls to cool, and then serve in your dog’s favourite bowl with some cold gravy (from your Christmas dinner) on the top.

Green Smoothie for Puppies

Dogs love green smoothies. Often, people ask us at what age they can start giving green smoothies to their dogs.  Please keep in mind the following guidelines when introducing green smoothies to you dogs: Dogs can safely have the following fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, and watermelon. They can also eat any greens. You may have even seen your doggies  eating grass at the park. Serve your dog smoothie in small amounts, since dogs do not need as much greens in their diet as we do. Also, dogs have smaller stomachs, and for that reason several tablespoons will be enough for a small dog, and a cup for a
large dog.

8 Foods You Should Never Give Your Pets Cont’d

8.  Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are common in candies and chocolates.  The mechanism of macadamia nut toxicity is not well understood, but clinical signs in dogs include  depression, weakness, vomiting, tremors, joint pain, and pale gums.  Clinical signs can occur within 12 hours after eating.  In some cases, signs can resolve without treatment in 24 to 48 hours, but patient monitoring is strongly recommended.

Dog Nutrition Cont’d

Dogs are generally lactose intolerant, yet for some reason they love dairy products.  A spoonful of ice cream or frozen yogurt(which has less lactose than ice cream) every once in a while should not bother your dog but do keep an eye on him to see if he experiences any tummy distress.  Also, be sure the ice cream doesn’t contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs: chocolate, coffee, raisins, and certain nuts.



A Rescue Dog’s Christmas Poem

Tis the night before Christmas and all through the town, every shelter is full – we are lost, but not found,
Our numbers are hung on our kennels so bare, we hope every minute that someone will care,
They’ll come to adopt us and give us the call, “Come here, Max and Sparkie – come fetch your new ball!!
But now we sit here and think of the days.. we were treated so fondly – we had cute, baby ways,
Once we were little, then we grew and we grew now we’re no longer young and we’re no longer new.
So out the back door we were thrown like the trash, they reacted so quickly – why were they so rash?
We “jump on the children:, “don’t come when they call”, we “bark when they leave us”, climb over the wall.
We should have been neutered, we should have been spayed, now we suffer the consequence of the errors THEY made.
If only they’d trained us, if only we knew…

we’d have done what they asked us and worshiped them, too.
We were left in the backyard, or worse -let to roam- now we’re tired and lonely and out of a home.
They dropped us off here and they kissed us good-bye… “Maybe someone else will give you a try.”
So now here we are, all confused and alone… in a shelter with others who long for a home.
The kind workers come through with a meal and a pat, with so many to care for, they can’t stay to chat,
They move to the next kennel, giving each of us cheer… we know that they wonder how long we’ll be here.
We lay down to sleep and sweet dreams fill our heads.. of a home filled with love and our own cozy beds.
Then we wake to see sad eyes, brimming with tears – our friends filled with emptiness, worry, and fear.
If you can’t adopt us and there’s no room at the Inn – could you help with the bills and fill our food bin?
We count on your kindness each day of the year – can you give more than hope to everyone here?
Please make a donation to pay for the heat… and help get us something special to eat.
The shelter that cares for us wants us to live, and more of us will, if more people will give.
Author Unknown