Have you been a good dog this year?
As a dog owner, the run up to Christmas inevitably means the age old family question, ‘What does the dog want for Christmas this year?’ Oh God. This question usually begins in November and becomes ever more intense as the days get closer to St. Nic arriving. The inevitable scrambling to think of something polite to say to dear Grandma ensues, whilst knowing full well you, “the parent” are the only trusted person on the planet to know exactly what to give your dog for Christmas. I have found owning a dog evokes paternal emotion not previously known unless you have an actual child. Rather than what I’m sure is the cuter, quieter and quite frankly easier canine alternative.
Personally for me, I’ll proudly admit my dogs only get the best food, treats and general dog mad paraphernalia that naturally comes with being a crazy dog lover. Family and friends have been left aghast when they see the footage of me throwing Rosie the Labrador the customary Birthday party with compulsory hat on top of her furry head.... did I mention the gift wrapped handwritten tags for each present or the party poppers?
Anyway - going back to Christmas Day and the unknown family bought festive dog presents. Yes, I’ll admit that on occasion I have openly checked the back of treat packets after tentatively unwrapping them. Meanwhile, the family sit there in a circle drinking bucks fizz eagerly awaiting with baited breath as to whether this overbearing, overly sensitive parent will give the green light to poor drooling Rosie and Holly. Will they be allowed to be given the £2.99 Christmas selection vacuum pack of chemically enhanced, bleach covered red and green candy canes from the local retail park? What the hell am I actually going to be like when I actually become a human parent?!?
I find it incredible that retailers are still allowed to sell the unquestionably unhealthy and dangerous “treats” to dogs. Good God, Christmas is the worst time for it! The endless rows of rawhide on the shelves, placed directly underneath the standard cardboard cut out of a Beagle dressed as an elf. Having professional experience in knowing what healthy dog treats are, means that I purposefully look to expose the dangerous rawhide treats as what they actually are - choking hazards, indigestible bubble gum taffy and toxic leather. For those of you who don’t know how rawhide is made or what it consists of, I strongly urge you to do a little research. It ain’t pretty reading, trust me.
Keeping your dog healthy should be the number 1 priority to all dog owners. It’s not about how much money you pay for food, treats and everything else that your dog needs. It’s about being clued up, speaking to the right people and understanding the importance of nutrition. Don’t go for the treats with artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Steer clear away from the added sugars or salts, poor or cheap quality meats, derivatives, grains or gluten. If you don’t, diabetes may just be around the corner for your beloved hound. When we got our dog, she was 3 years old, obese and had lived on 300g portion sizes of the most horrendously manufactured unhealthy food you could possibly imagine. She was an actual barrel. Through hard work, dieting and rigorous countryside walking, my baby girl got to her recommended weight and was no longer a fluffy result of lazy and neglectful ownership.
Dogs are like kids aren’t they? You give the 3 year old the opportunity all kids dream about by being allowed to eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner and they’ll happily dine out on chocolate and vanilla helpings all day long. You put that ice cream in front of them and they’ll do the rest, don’t worry about that. You do the exact same thing for your dog and you’ll get exactly the same results. Dogs need us, “the parent” to be the responsible gatekeeper. They want us for companionship, help, love and guidance at every waking moment. That’s why we love them to the ends of the earth right? Just remember this, when dear Grandma inevitably asks you “what does the dog want for Christmas?”