The holiday season is now upon us, and the next few months will be a chaos of parties, family gatherings, travel, and food. As we get caught up in the craziness and merriment, it’s very important to keep the safety of our pets in mind and remind our guests to do the same. Increased activity in the home may often become a source of stress for some pets and an abundance of food, treats, and decorations create potential risks for our furry friends.
We know you already have an awful lot to think about during the holidays, but by making yourself aware of some potential dangers and planning ahead, you’ll be better able to put your mind at ease as you enjoy time with your family. Just a few quick reminders and tips are all you need to keep your pets safe, healthy, and happy during the holidays.
1. Keep Toxic Foods Out of Reach
We’re all guilty of giving our pets tidbits of human food here and there, but there are certain foods can cause issues for our furry friends, including digestive upset or pancreatitis — and in severe cases, can even lead to death. Chocolate is probably the most well-known toxin, but here are just a few others you should also avoid:
- Onions and also garlic
- Treats that are sweetened with sugar or xylitol
- Fatty, salty and very spicy foods
- Alcohol and beverages that are caffeinated
- Grapes, raisins, and nuts
When in doubt, it’s always best to skip the table scraps. Instead, try picking up a special treat at the pet store or cutting up a few raw, unseasoned fruits or veggies for them to munch on. If you suspect your pet has ingested something, you should call a pet poison hotline or your nearest emergency veterinary clinic for advice.
2. Avoid Dangerous Décorations
No holiday is complete without festive decorations, but it’s important to make sure you keep the safety of pets in mind as you prepare your home for the festive season. Trees should always be firmly secured on a sturdy base so they can’t be easily knocked over. And if you happen to use a live tree, make sure you clean up pine needles daily to prevent accidental ingestion. Ornaments and other small decorations can be mistaken as a toy by a curious cat or pup, so make sure you keep breakable ornaments out of reach to prevent injury.
Remember to also take caution when wrapping gifts as well. Strings and ribbons can easily become lodged in the intestines, causing painful (and dangerous) obstructions that may require surgery. Instead, opt for eco-friendly packaging that’s safer for pets — and better for the planet.
3. Candle and bulb Safety
Candles play an important role in many holiday traditions, however, they become a fire hazard and can cause serious injury to pets if not used properly. Always put candles on a sturdy surface where they’re at less risk of being knocked over, and never leave burning candles unattended.
Ever had a cat chew through the cord of your phone charger? Well, the same thing can happen with strings of lights. Keep all cords off the floor, or lightly spritz them with a bit of bitter, non-toxic spray such as Bitter Apple to prevent chewing mishaps (just make sure the lights are unplugged when you do it).
4. Avoid Toxic Plants
Plants add a pleasant touch to holiday décor, especially during the snow-filled months where there isn’t a bit of greenery in sight, but they can easily pose a danger to your pets. Holly, mistletoe and pine needles carry varying ranges of toxicity — and you should be careful with potpourri too.
5. Safe Traveling
If you plan to take your pets along with you on your holiday travel adventures, make sure you keep them safe in the vehicle by either using a kennel, pet carrier or car safety harness. Always be sure you help them stay comfortable by keeping them hydrated and incorporating plenty of bathroom breaks.
6. Keeping Your Pets Calm
New surroundings and having a lot of people coming in and out of your home can be stressful for some pets, especially if they are older or not feeling well. Always make sure your pet has a quiet, safe area to retreat to when they are feeling overwhelmed. You can also use a pet gate to close off an area of your home from all guests so pets won’t be disturbed. You can also check out these natural remedies to ease their nerves.