From boujee collars to ‘tidbits’ – the 7 mistakes that could be impacting your dog’s health

Having a dog is fun, right? But it’s important to know when ‘fun’ can cause stress, discomfort, or mental and physical health issues to your pet.

Pet insurance experts at have put together some guidance on common mistakes that we humans are prone to making when attempting to show our furry friends just how much we love and adore them.

Dressing them up 

High-visibility and winter coats, good. Fashion and novelty wear, not so much. While most novelty outfits won’t cause serious distress or health implications, dogs can struggle to move and communicate when wearing inappropriate attire, as well as find it uncomfortable and confusing.

And if you’re thinking of painting or dyeing your pet’s fur, you might want to reconsider.

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at leading pet insurance comparison site, suggests: “Although colouring your pet’s fur might seem like fun and make a great photo for social media, it can often be messy and cause your pet discomfort, stress and in some cases, significant health and safety problems.

“If you’re planning on dressing your furry friend up for Christmas, make sure it doesn’t restrict your pet’s movement and especially their breathing in any way. If your pet seems distressed or uncomfortable in any way, it’s best to keep them in their natural furry coats.”

Photographing them obsessively 

For some dogs, cameras can seem strange and intimidating. Staring at dogs tends to make them uncomfortable, and cameras and phones may be perceived by some breeds as a foreign object or threat. Playing with your pet or throwing a ball might be a better way of showing affection rather than a full photoshoot.

Buying fashion collars 

While dog collars are often necessary and very safe, the wrong collar can cause limb, mouth, and neck injuries, skin problems, general discomfort, and even breathing difficulties. Before reaching for the harness or collar that’s at the height of fashion right now, speak to your vet about your pet’s lifestyle, habits, and needs specific to their breed.

Letting them roam in the car 

It’s against the law to have an unrestrained pet in the car. It’s also dangerous for them and other passengers. Avoid a hefty fine, penalty points and risking your dog’s safety with a seat belt, harness, pet carrier, dog cage, or dog guard. Your vet will advise on the best option specific to their breed.

Overindulging them

Dogs are hardwired to beg for food, even the most domesticated. The kindest thing you can do is say no to treats and tidbits, and certainly to food which is a danger to them, such as onion, garlic, avocado, grapes, raisins, corn on the cob, and chocolate.

Veterinary practice, Blue Cross for Pets, recommends keeping a particularly close eye on your canine companion during the festive season. Chocolate can be toxic for dogs, so be wary at Christmas when they may chew through the wrapping. Symptoms include vomiting, restlessness, twitchiness, and walking difficulties. Even small amounts have the potential to make them feel sick, but veterinary treatment should be sought for any dog that has taken any quantity of chocolate.

Hugging them 

Before you go in for a huge cuddle, it’s worth knowing that many dogs don’t appreciate being hugged tightly. It’s not in a dog’s nature to be confined, so a tight hug could lead to stress or distress or restrict their breathing. In the canine world, dogs putting their paws on another is a display of dominance, so to them, you’re asserting your power over them. Most dogs will put up with it, even if they don’t like it.

Ditching the discipline

Going against the grain may be fun for us at times, but dogs thrive on rules and routine. Dogs have an internal clock and sticking to a routine, like feeding and exercising at the same time each day, makes them happy. Rules make a dog’s world more predictable and can boost their confidence and wellbeing.

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at leading pet insurance comparison site,, concludes: “Good planning is key to a dog’s long term wellbeing. From discovering what activities it enjoys and building family time around this, to ensuring appropriate care and suitable pet insurance are in place. This will give peace of mind that any unexpected illnesses and misadventures that may occur along the way will not get in the way of you – and your pet – living your very best lives together.”

Having fun for a dog involves playing, walking, enjoying quality one-on-one time with their owner, socialising with canine and human friends, being trained, and receiving affection – on their terms.

There are exceptions to every rule, but by truly understanding how human behaviour and lifestyle impacts dogs – both emotionally and physically – pet owners can better factor their needs into their family lifestyles, homes, and finances. This ensures their pet is happy, healthy, and well looked after in the long term.