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Christmas, Family, Heidi, Lifestyle, Pet

12 Days of Pedigree

*Countdown to Christmas klaxon!*

Oh, my goodness – it’s almost Christmas, guys! I am so excited to spend the holidays having some quality time with my family. But not just the human members, I fully intend to have our pooch, Heidi, join in with the festivities.

The folks at Pedigree recently asked me to share my twelve tips for getting my dog ready for the holiday season in regards to including her in the fun, but also keeping her safe. I really hope you find them useful.

1. Book your doggy’s Christmas hair do early!

Just as your hairdresser’s appointment book will fill up quickly during November and December, so will your dog groomer’s. Book your dog grooming appointment early to ensure that your pampered pooch looks (and more importantly, smells) their best come the big day!

2. Store the crimbo choccies in a safe place. 

Like a lot of families, we become inundated with boxes of chocolates, advent calendars and biscuits over the festive period. (Hey, you won’t hear me complaining!) But those tasty human treats can be pretty toxic for our four-legged friends. Even a small amount of chocolate could cause your dog an upset stomach. We put all of our choccies in a Tupperware container or biscuit tin and keep them well out of reach of Heidi.

3. Treat your doggy to an advent calendar!

Just because we’re hiding our chocolates away from Heidi, it doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy her very own treats during the countdown to Christmas. Most pet stores will sell doggy advent calendars in the run up to Christmas and I always think it’s a nice way to include Heidi each day.

4. Enjoy the winter walks, safely. 

I love winter dog walks, especially on cold crisp, sunny days. We tend to walk Heidi twice a day – once during the daytime and again in the evening, after dinner. Of course, this time of year it’s getting dark very early which means taking precautions during those evening walks. I’ve invested in a light-up tag for Heidi’s collar and a hi-vis jacket for myself. Granted, I won’t be winning any fashion awards any time soon but I daren’t take any chances when it comes to our safety.

5. Ensure your dog has a safe retreat.

With lots of visitors to the house, excitable kids and the general chaos that comes with the holidays – it can be a bit overwhelming for our pets. Heidi certainly becomes unsettled when there’s lots of things going on at once or if there’s changes to our normal routine. We’re hosting Christmas dinner at our house this year so I’ll be making sure that Heidi has a quiet space she can go to if she needs a break from all of the excitement.

6. Stuff a stocking for your pooch…

Each member of our family has a stocking which we hang up on Christmas eve for ‘Santa’ to fill. Heidi has her very own stocking which we stuff with healthy doggy treats and usually some kind of Christmas themed squeaky toy (which we regret buying as soon as she gets hold of it)! ;)

7. Get creative with photos of your pet!

Whilst I may enjoy sporting a very fetching Christmas jumper during the holidays, Heidi on the other hand is not so keen. She doesn’t enjoy dressing up, so we don’t do it. So, do you know what I do instead? I create festive snaps using phone apps and free online editing software. It’s loads of fun to do and it doesn’t annoy your pooch! I like to use Picmonkey to add festive ‘stickers’ to photos of Heidi – I think they’d make great Christmas cards!

8. Be tree safe!

We usually put our Christmas tree up off the ground (on a coffee table) and fenced off from the children and Heidi. This ensures that decorations don’t get pulled off and chewed on. The consequences of our beloved pooch eating Christmas decorations (such as tinsel and baubles) are unthinkable.

9. Be wary of which festive plants you bring into your home…

According to  the RSPCA “Some plants and flowers including poinsettias, holly, ivy, mistletoe and lilies can be toxic, so avoid these if you have pets.” I love having poinsettias in our house at Christmas but I’m going to invest in a artificial version to be on the safe side. It also means I can use the same one again and again each year!

10. Avoid overindulgence

We all tend overindulge with food over Christmas and it can be tempting to spoil your dog with tasty treats over the festive period too. Limiting the treats to a few a day will ensure that your dog keeps off the Christmas weight! On days when we give Heidi extra treats, we reduce her portion size at meal times to account for the extra calories she’s already had.

11. Plan ahead in order to avoid your dog feeling lonely this Christmas…

We don’t always host Christmas dinner at our house, other years we’ve gone to stay with family for the day (or longer). On some occasions we’ve been able to take Heidi with us but other times, when we’ve gone abroad for example, we’ve had to make other arrangements for her. For the longer trips, Heidi stays with a pet sitter or with friends. But even when we’re out for a few hours, we like to have someone on hand to pop round and check on her. We generally don’t like to leave her for more than 4 hours without a toilet break and a tickle! Make sure you’ve got dog sitting/walking sorted ahead of time to avoid the stress of arranging last minute petcare.

12. Watch out for needles!

If you opt for a real Christmas tree this year, then be sure to vacuum up the fallen needles frequently. They could cause some discomfort to your dog if they get stuck in their paws. We tend to stick to an artificial tree for this reason (and if I’m honest, I can’t stand the mess of a real tree!)

I hope you’ve found this post useful.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

Jenna x

This post is a collaboration with Pedigree, but all thoughts are my own. For additional dental care information you can read the following Pedigree Reviews article for tips and advice.

Tips for holidaying with your dog in the UK
Family, Heidi, Lifestyle, Travel

Tips for holidaying with your dog

“You must be mad!” – That is the kind of reaction I got from some of my family and friends when I told them that we were planning on taking our dog, Heidi, on holiday with us.

If you’ve read any of my posts about what a handful my pooch can be, you’d be forgiven for thinking the same. Alas, our ‘pet lady’ who would normally take care of Heidi and our guinea pigs whilst we are away on hols was already fully booked for the summer. We decided to brave it and go ahead and book a family holiday in South Devon, dog and all.

I can honestly say it was a fantastic break away and having our beloved furbaby with us only enhanced the trip. If you’ve ever thought about taking your dog on holiday with you but have been put off by the hassle of it, here’s some tips for holidaying with your dog, that might make you change your mind…

NB. Whilst some of this may apply to taking your dog abroad with you, I am talking specifically about holidaying in the UK as that is what we did on this occasion.

Tips for holidaying with your dog in the UK

Accommodation, planning and packing:

 Finding somewhere to stay

Your first task will be to find suitable dog-friendly accommodation in your chosen location. We wanted self-catering accommodation in Torquay and after a quick search I managed to find something that was perfect for us. A self-catering apartment just a few minutes walk away from the seafront and town centre, dog friendly and plenty of room for Jasmine’s cot. After a few e-mails back and fourth with the apartment owner we had booked our accommodation, a week’s stay for £235 (in the height of the summer holidays too) – absolute bargain!

weacceptpets and dogsinvited are both useful websites for finding dog-friendly accommodation in the UK.

Make a list

Before packing for our holiday I wrote a list for each member of the family including Heidi (because who doesn’t love writing lists?) This just made it easier for me to remember everything I needed to take for her, such as her bowls, bedding and leads etc. It also ensured I didn’t leave anything behind when it was time to pack up and come home.

Research, research, research!

Soon after booking our holiday, I set about putting together an information pack about the local area. The last thing I wanted was for us to get there and have nothing to do or nowhere to go. I found out which local attractions allowed dogs, which of the beaches were dog friendly all year-round, places to eat and also emergency contact details for the local vets. Armed with this information you will hopefully get a lot more out of your holiday rather than wasting precious time looking for things to do whilst you’re there.

Having said all that, we found Devon to be extremely dog-friendly and never had to go very far to find a pub, bar, chip shop, tea room or restaurant that welcomed our furry family member!


Car safety

Invest in a good well-fitting harness so that your dog is secure whilst you’re on the road. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the temperature inside the car, dogs can’t regulate their body temperature as well as humans and will easily overheat. 

 Take breaks

Stop regularly to allow your dog the opportunity to have a drink of water and a toilet break. Some of the bigger service stations even have large grassy areas specifically for walking dogs. Don’t forget your poop bags!

Getting around

Whilst we were on holiday I was surprised how easy it was to get around with a dog in toe. Pretty much anything goes and Heidi experienced travelling by both stream train and ferry! Don’t assume it’ll be free though, we got told off for not paying the £2 fare for Heidi’s steam train journey. Oopsie!

Whilst you’re there: 

Use local knowledge

If you’re staying in dog friendly accommodation then the property owner will be one of the best people to ask about places to visit. The lady who ran our apartment pointed out several local pubs where dogs were welcome – always useful information! ;)

Don’t be afraid to approach local dog owners too – most of the time they will be only too pleased to share their favourite dog walking haunts with you. dog-403699_1280

Don’t expect too much from your dog 

What I mean by this is, if for example, your dog’s daily walks usually involve a quick walk around the block don’t then expect your dog to be able to walk for hours and hours on holiday. We made this mistake on our first day and walked for about 10 miles and by the end of it poor Heidi was exhausted. We made sure to take lots of regular breaks in between walks for the rest of the holiday.

Have a plan B

To me, the only downside of taking Heidi on holiday with us is that it limited where we could go. Most indoor attractions were of bounds and thus we were really relying on the weather being good. Fortunately, whilst we were away we had fairly decent weather but we did still have one very wet morning, so out came my emergency stash of Disney DVDs. We opted for a snuggly movie morning until the sun came back out. Definitely pack something to keep you occupied indoors in case our rather unreliable British weather lets you down!

I would definitely consider taking Heidi with us on any future holidays as it really wasn’t much hassle at all. I hope that if you’ve thought about taking your dog with you on a UK break then this post will give you the push to do so. You won’t regret it!

Have you ever considered holidaying with your dog in the UK?

Or do you have any  other tips for holidaying with your dog?

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This post was first published on the 19th August 2014.