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Happy Howlidays for the Whole Family

Nov 25, 2015 ● By Candace Canty

When we think of the holidays, we think about family, traditions and lots of parties to attend. It’s something wonderful we should truly enjoy, but for an unprepared pet parent, it can be more holiday headache than holiday cheer. No worries… the Howliday Guide is here.




Whether we plan to take our dog to grand-paw’s house or the whole family is stopping by our place, we need to live by a few simple rules when it comes to guests. Loud noises, running children, new smells and faces can all be overwhelming to many canines. Even if Fido is a social butterfly, giving them a space of their own is extremely important. Designate a place that he can retreat to if he needs some alone time, like a spare bedroom, a crate or behind a baby gate. Or perhaps give him a complete break from the madness with a day or two at a doggy day care or boarding place.

Communicate to guests and make sure they know not to feed pets table scraps or allow any unwanted behaviors like getting on the couch or jumping. Don’t be shy about telling guests to tone it down if you think your dog is being overwhelmed or acting up due to their attention.

Slowly introduce new people or groups by keeping him in a separate room until the dog is used to the sounds and smells of all the new guests and food items.




Incorporating the family pet into family traditions is easy. Many people bake and decorate cookies at the holidays, so go ahead and include a dog friendly recipe. There are delicious recipes out there that are tasty for both dogs and satisfy our taste buds, too.

Many families wake up to stockings full of surprises. Include the pup on this tradition and make them an extra-special stocking with a couple of bags of treats, a toy and a few chewies. Don’t forget a long-lasting chew like a deer antler or bully stick to keep them busy while everyone opens presents.

Almost half of U.S. households have at least one dog, and more than 80 percent of those say they identify as their dog’s mommy or daddy, so we can confidently say it’s okay to buy our pet a holiday present. There are lots of fantastic items on the market, and shopping at a local independently owned shop is recommended because they traditionally curate a selection of the best merchandise, like high-quality, durable, American-made items.

When it comes to treats, choose natural, limited-ingredient treats like freeze-dried liver, dehydrated chicken strips and dried sweet potato. Some stores even carry canine pastries that could fool anyone with their elaborate decorating. They make great gifts for neighbors, teachers and relatives with dogs.

Curious young dogs or teen wolves may need to be kept out of the Christmas tree room or away from other decorations. If a dog is tempted to inspect the tree on a regular basis, avoid edible decorations like popcorn strings or cranberries because they might jump up on the tree and pull it down onto the crowd. Tinsel and garland can also be dangerous if ingested as it may obstruct the intestines. Remember, it’s our responsibility to keep our pets safe.


So many parties, so little time


December can be one of the busiest times of the year, with shopping, staying late at work to wrap up projects, traveling to see family and sometimes attending multiple holiday parties. With the overwhelm of everything to do, don’t let a dog be an after thought. Line up a sitter or dog walker that can stop over and help out during busy times.

Plan ahead so that we aren’t forgetting or pushing their walks off and making potty breaks shorter; that will only cause them more anxiety and stress, because not only are we away from them more, they also aren’t getting enough physical and mental stimulation, which will result in bad behavior. Stick as closely as possible to their normal routine. Try not to vary their feeding times, walking schedules or playtime activities.


Locations: Dogaholics Retail boutique and offices, 3657 N. Southport Ave., Chicago (773-857-7600); Service Center, Daycare, Grooming, Boarding and Training, 3608 N. Southport Ave., Chicago (773-549-9000). Also visit For more information including additional tips, visit Natural Awakenings readers, visit

Candace Canty is a pet parent expert and founder of Dogaholics.


Gingerbread Mailmen


1½ cup oat flour

1½ cup brown rice flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

1 egg

¼ cup blackstrap molasses

¼ cup peanut butter

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

½ cup water


Preheat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients (except the water) together. Add water slowly and mix until a dough forms (if too dry, add more water, too wet, add a bit more flour).

You may not need all the water if you reach a good consistency first. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to quarter-inch thickness. Use a gingerbread man-shaped cookie cutter (or any cookie cutter) to cut into shapes.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (for easy cleanup) and place the cookies on the sheet (they can be rather close together as they don›t grow much while cooking). Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Transfer and let cool completely on a wire rack. Store the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Hard Carob Icing


For dark brown icing:

1 cup unsweetened carob chips
(do not substitute with chocolate)


For white or light icing:

2 cups yogurt coated chips

Natural liquid food coloring


Heat the chips until soft in a double boiler (over low heat) or in the oven or microwave. Once soft, either dip your treats into them or use a pastry bag with a decorating tip to ice the cookies. If the carob or yogurt chips are too thick to work with when melted, you can add a splash of safflower oil to help thin it out, but be careful, because if you add too much oil, the icing won’t harden again when it cools.


Recipes and image from The Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook, by the Bubba Rose Biscuit Company, published by Cider Mill Press.