If you get sick of seeing the same 10 tips for “keeping your dog safe during the Holidays,” you’ll find this article a refreshing change. First, it’s completely greyhound-centric. Second, I came up with them myself, drawing on 23 merry Christmasses with my greyhounds. Plus, I had a lot of fun getting input from my daughter, as we remembered Christmasses past. Sometimes, our dog made things kind of adventurous!
Make dog biscuits as a gift.
This is really easy to do! You just make a simple dough out of flour, oil, and peanut butter. Then, roll it out & cut it. If you’re like me, and hate cutting out cookies – even those for people – because of the messy, sticky dough, you will love this. This dough is as easy to handle as Play-Doh. This makes a lot of cookies, especially if you make them small. I don’t have a lot of patience with cutting cookies, so I usually divide the dough into three parts, and freeze two of them. They come out of the oven hard and crunchy, just the way your buddy likes them, and they keep for months…not that they’ll be around for that long!
Greyhound Homecare Easy Biscuits
2 1/4c. flour
2T. bouillon powder, chicken or beef
2T. EACH of peanut butter, bacon grease, and cooking oil
2/3c. warm water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F), and lightly grease pan(s) (1/3 of this dough bakes in 2 standard cookie pans, or 1 large cookie pan)
Mix all the ingredients into a firm, but pliable, dough.
Roll out to 1/8″ thickness.
Place cut cookies on prepared pans, and bake 35 – 45 minutes.
Let cool 5 minutes, and remove to a cooling rack.
Don’t let him eat the tree (or poinsettias).
The poinsettia is pretty easy to safeguard. Just be careful there aren’t dropped leaves left on the floor, as all parts of the poinsettia plant are very poisonous. The safest place for this plant is in the center of a large, higher surface, like as a centerpiece for your table, so the leaves fall on the table, not the floor.
The tree is another matter. The needles go all over the place, and the low branches are ripe for grazing. Plus, unlike the hothouse-bred poinsettia, the tree came from the outdoors, and has interesting woodland creature smells. I have had greyhounds eat the needles, and get sick.
Keep chocolate out of reach.
I don’t know about you, but we certainly have a lot of chocolate around at Christmas time. It spills from stockings, it’s in gift boxes under the tree. We’ve even had ornaments that are made from wrapped chocolate. The worst are those little, foil-wrapped balls. They tend to roll onto the floor; where you won’t notice them, but your greyhound will.
According to the AKC, the theobromine and caffeine in chocolate can make your greyhound sick; very sick, if he consumes a lot of it.
Watch his fats.
I never knew this one, until last Christmas, when Lily ate too much fat from our Christmas Eve prime rib dinner. We all thought we were being so generous, and Lily was having a great time cleaning everyone’s plate, until she started throwing up. Every time I’d get one mess cleaned up, she’d throw up again, four times total. Then, the poor thing lay on the rug for hours, not moving.
If I had known then what I learned later, while researching my article “What Foods are Bad for my Greyhound?,” I would have been on the phone to the animal hospital. It turns out that too much fat can overstimulate your dog’s pancreas, giving him an attack of pancreatitis, which can be fatal.
Canine Journal notes that pancreatitis comes in a mild type, and a severe one; but even the “mild” form is no walk in the park. Plus, one attack can make your greyhound more prone to future attacks.
Don’t give him cookie or yeast dough.
The flour we use for baking can be tainted with e coli bacteria, when in its unbaked state. Even the legendary flour company, King Arthur Flour, cautions that “flour is not a ‘ready to eat’ ingredient.”
Neither are eggs, for that matter. The high incidence of salmonella in raw eggs gives you a second reason not to let your greyhound eat raw cookie dough.
Yeast dough is four hazards in one. Even if a greyhound swallows a small amount, moisture in his tummy and body heat will activate the yeast, causing the dough to expand in his digestive tract to 2-3 times its original size. This could cause a blockage, or put too much pressure on his vital organs.
Even if your grey escapes that danger, the fermentation of the yeasted dough will produce ethanol gas – Not The Horrible Greyhound Gas, but that which will be released into his bloodstream and cause alcohol poisoning. As if that isn’t bad enough, all that swelling and gas could cause the much-feared tummy bloat, the fatal condition in which a swollen stomach can flip inside your greyhound’s deep chest.
Ask guests not to feed him.
Given my previous precautions, this one should be obvious.
If you only have a small number of guests, or it’s people who know not to feed the dog without asking, you should be OK; but if you’re having a party, you can ask people to not slip the dog any nibbles. If he gets sick, it can be awfully hard to trace back the culprit.
Put unbreakable ornaments on lower branches.
Now that we’re making sure to keep your greyhound safe, let’s work on keeping your Christmas trimmings safe! One sweep of that long, wagging tail can take out several ornamnets at once! The lower branches of your tree are a great place to display your unbreakable ornaments (as long as they don’t look like something he’d want to chew).
Guard your gifts, even the wrapped ones.
Once everything is opened, it’s easy to sort out the things you want to put out of your pet’s reach. Leading up to Christmas morning, however, all that pretty giftwrap can be tempting to a greyhound. Even if none of the gifts are dog biscuits, candy, or Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage, greyhounds adore opening gifts, and paper shredding, in general.
Lily has never been a paper-shredder; but all that changed last week! In the middle of a normal day, she grabbed a piece of paper, took it to her bed, and tore it to ribbons. In five years, she has never done that! She snitched this particular piece of paper from next to our wood stove.
One of my neighbors had a Samoyed who never was much of a chewer, until age 9, when he discovered shoes. It must have been the smell of the leather that was so attractive, because she tracked down the gift-wrapped, boxed, slippers, and settled down to a $100 Uggs lunch.
This is all just to make the point that even an old dog may teach himself a new trick. I usually trust Lily around our Christmas packages, but I’ll be more watchful this year.
Make sure they don’t give you the slip.
There are three reasons to be extra careful not to let your greyhound slip out the door at Christmastime.
First, it’s just a more exciting time, in general. Your greyhound feels that pent-up excitement, as well. He may decide that a romp through the neighborhood is just what the doctor ordered. He may be looking to bust out!
Second, you may have all kinds of exciting people coming in and out of your house; between friends, family, deliverymen, and repairmen coming in to shore things up before winter hits. Even if your grey is not a “greeter,” he will still find the extra door-opening interesting, and may want to explore.
There is also the chance that one of your guests will not close your door fully. I have a door like this: you think you’ve closed it, but the latch doesn’t quite catch. Then, another door in the house opens, and the pressure pulls the unlatched one open. The catch on the storm door is not the greatest, and Lily could easily lean on it and open the door.
Third, it’s easy to get distracted by all the goings-on, and not be as watchful as you normally would.
Maintain his schedule. Consider a sitter exchange.
All of the above will be easier, if you keep your greyhound on his schedule. If you have to, bring in someone to fill in when you can’t be there. It doesn’t have to be a professional dog-walker, although that its certainly an option.
One advantage of walking around so much with Lily is that I know my neighbors. We have standing offers with three different neighbors, who help me out by stopping in to feed her and take her out, so I can enjoy a long day of shopping or a performance of The Nutcracker. They have all had dogs of their own, one even being a fellow greyhound owner; so I know Lily is always in good hands.
References for Further Info
About dogs and chocolate toxicity –
Say no to raw dough –
More about dog pancreatitis –