keep your pets safe for the holidays

Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season

Most everyone has a favorite holiday ritual. Giving gifts, decorating the Christmas tree or lighting the menorah can be wonderful family traditions. If you’re not careful though, they can pose hazards to your pets. Make sure Fluffy and Fido have a happy holiday, too. Keep your pets safe from potential household dangers this holiday season.


Keep Your Pets Safe Around Decorations

Tinsel on a Christmas tree may look stunning, but it’s horrible for your pet should they ingest the material. The silvery plastic strings can get caught in their intestinal tract and cause a blockage. The pet may need surgery to remove the tinsel from their intestines. With all the decorations out there, if you have pets take a pass on this one in particular.

Glass balls tree ornaments easily shatter if they fall. Should your dog or cat manage to get one off the tree, they could also swallow the hook that it’s hanging on. If your pet plays with the ornament and it breaks the pieces could hurt them. Should your pet try to eat the broken pieces or the hooks, it could cause life-threatening damage to their GI tract.

If you have a tall tree hang your ornaments out of paw’s reach. Alternatively, you could place a dog gate around your tree to keep your pup away from it. To keep cats from toppling the whole tree, secure the top of it to the ceiling with fishing line.

Cats have been known to knock over lit candles, a danger not only to them but your whole home. Opt for electric faux candles or pleasing potpourri instead. Another favorite cat past time is hiding inside things. Double check those gift boxes before you take them out to the recycle bin!


Keep Your Pets Safe From Toxic Plants

Many plants represent the winter holidays, usually due to their ability to stay green all year long. Holly, mistletoe, lilies, christmas roses, and poinsettias look gorgeous in your home. Unfortunately they are also toxic for your fur babies. ASPCA states that while some of these plants will only cause stomach issues, others, like the lily can cause kidney failure.

Don’t let that stop you from bringing plants into your home. You can even include lilies and poinsettias if you want to. Just buy fake variants from your local crafting store or keep them well out of reach. If you desire live flowers for your centerpiece invest in some that won’t be harmful to your pet.


Human Food is not a Dog Treat

Just about everyone is guilty of giving their adorable little pooch some table scraps. You may think you’re doing them a kindness when you give in to those sad puppy eyes, but really you’re putting them at risk for a life-threatening illness.

Many people don’t know this, but turkey can actually cause pancreatitis in dogs. For some breeds, this may only cause diarrhea or vomiting, but for others, it can be much more severe. Leftovers, in general, are bad for pets. Introducing them to foods that they aren’t used to can bother their stomachs. For pups with sensitive stomachs don’t even put the leftover gravy in their bowl. It could cause more problems than you think.  

A lot of people know that chocolate is bad for dogs. Did you know that other treats can be toxic too? Xylitol–found in many candies as well as some brands of peanut butter–is also harmful. Nuts present dangers too, as this infographic from Wag the Dog enumerates.

If you can’t resist those big brown eyes, don’t feel bad. Find some treats that your pet can eat and keep them with you. While you’re eating your holiday turkey or ham, you don’t have to feel bad for saying no. Even if you don’t offer a treat to your pet, remember even the best of dogs may try to take a little nibble. Also, children may want to show their holiday spirit by sharing, not knowing the risks to an animal. Make sure you set rules about feeding pets.


Give Them Space

Animals aren’t perfect no matter how well trained they are. When they’re uncomfortable or anxious just like humans they will act out in the only ways they know how. Sometimes that’s barking loudly. Other times they’ll get into trash cans, tear up furniture, or get into the food you spent all day prepping. Rather than punish them when it happens do your best to prevent these incidents in the first place.

Some dogs or cats don’t like strangers. Large crowds make them feel threatened and could lead them to lash out on one of your guests. If this sounds like your dog or cat, place them in a familiar room alone. Give them the comforts like their bed, food, water, toys, or a litter box.


Keep Them Occupied

If you have a social animal, don’t lock them up where your guests can’t play with them. For guests who want to give their attention to your pet let them play with a laser pointer or tug toy. If you have a guest that is especially fond of pets, see if they want to take your dog outside for a walk or game of fetch. This will keep your pet out of the kitchen, so they don’t try to get into the food. And, it will keep your pet out of the way when there are a lot of people around.


Leaving Pets While You Travel

If you travel for the pets, you might leave your cat, bird, or rodent at home. But if you choose to bring a dog or other pet on the road, take proper measures to ensure their comfort and safety.


Find a Pet Sitter

Pet sitters can be great if you’re going away for a longer time. This is true even for cats and smaller pets like hamsters and reptiles. A sitter will be able to take your dog outside and interact with them so they won’t get lonely. You’re other pets get lonely too. Don’t let your cat fool you. They might seem independent, but they miss you when you’ve been gone for a long time. They also really want someone to replenish their food bowl and scoop their poops. If your pet isn’t already acquainted with your sitter, hold a meet-and-greet before you leave. This way at least your pet can recognize the scent of their sitter.


Find a Kennel

A lot of individuals may avoid putting their dog or cat in a kennel while they’re gone. Sometimes kennels get a bad reputation. Be sure to do your research before you board them. Pay close attention to their reviews and ask friends and family if they’ve used the kennel before. This way you can ensure that your fur baby will be well taken care of when you leave. Also, pay attention to whether or not the kennel accepts your breed. Some kennels deem certain breeds “dangerous.”


Holiday Travel With Your Pets

If your host doesn’t mind, perhaps you want to bring your pet along for the festivities. Again, keep their comfort and safety in mind.

Cats may whine about being confined to their cage, but they can survive a car ride. Just bring along a travel litter box, food, and plenty of water. Many dogs love car rides. Just make frequent stops for exercise and bathroom breaks. If your dog normally wears a doggie coat during cold weather walks, bring that along on your trip. Stick to your routine in any ways you can.


Your pets are part of the family, so of course you want to include them in holiday celebrations! Just keep their needs in mind and plan for a safe, happy holiday.

PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

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