Deck the Paws: Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday
There’s no place like home for the holiday season – a time where we love to break out the ornaments, tinsel and boughs of holly. But did you know that some of your favorite holiday cheer can be big Ho-Ho-No-Nos for your pet?
Check out our tips below for how you can both make your home festive for the holiday celebrations and maintain a safe and healthy environment for your furry loved one.
How to Dec(orate) the Halls
- Plants to Avoid: According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, some plants that we often-gift or use as decoration during the holidays – including Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, poinsettias, and holly – can have malignant effects if ingested by your pet. If you plan to decorate with any of these plants this year, be sure to place them out of reach of where your fur baby can get to them.
- Secure the Tree: Mischievous cats (and some pups) have been known to find clever ways to tip over even the mightiest of trees if they attempt to play with the ornament and lights. And because falling trees can potentially cause your pets harm, consider firmly securing your tree by tying it down with twine or rope to the ceiling or nearest doorframe. You should also regularly sweep or vacuum around the tree to remove all fallen pine needles; pine needles are sharp and ingestible and could cause digestive problems if accidentally gobbled up by your pet.
- Decorate with Care: Avoid using edible decorations (such as dough/cookie ornaments or cranberry and popcorn strands) when possible as these may appeal to those insatiable bellies we love to rub. Take care to keep all light strands and electrical cords off the ground should your pet tend to chew on anything in sight – also make sure these electrical cords are unplugged when you leave your home.
- Don’t Be Wick-ity Wack: While candles can add a lovely element to your holiday traditions, be sure to never leave lit candles unattended. Restless paws may be tempted to swat at the flickering light and could result in injury to your pet or an accidental fire.
- Keep it Unin”Tinsel”al: Shimmery, shiny and dangling at a perfect play height from the tree or mantel… what’s your fur baby not to love about tinsel? But be aware – if swallowed, tinsel can obstruct your pet’s digestive tract and can potentially cause vomiting, dehydration and cause other life-threatening illness, according to the Lehigh County Humane Society.
- Christmas Tree Fire Prevention: Putting up a Christmas tree is pretty exciting, and pets agree. Putting up a Christmas tree when you have a pet poses a different level of challenge though. While decorations like tinsel and ornaments present obvious dangers—there’s a much bigger risk. The dry bristles can be fire starters. According to the U.S Fire department, about 40% of Christmas tree fires start in the living room, family room, or den. Here are a few simple safety tips to help prevent Christmas tree fires and safeguard your four-legged buddy.
Festive Food Do’s and Don’ts
- Foods to Avoid: Though most of us will look forward to the savory dishes and treats that have become tradition during the holidays, some foods may be toxic if ingested by our four-legged friends. Make sure that all chocolates, cookie or bread dough, nuts, fruitcakes, and alcohol are kept safely stored away out the reach of curious noses – especially if they are wrapped as gifts and placed under the tree. You can check out our full list of common substances in your home that could make your pet sick here
- Practice a Normal Food Routine: It will be tempting to give your pet scraps as you prepare to host parties and family during the holiday season (We know, we know – THOSE EYES!), but we strongly recommend that keep your pets to as close of a normal food routine as possible during a time of year when some tasty human foods may be in excess.
- Frequently Take Out the Trash: Trash twist ties: 0. Insatiable Bellies: 100^x. No matter how hard we prepare, those sharp noses and teeth can often find their way into any accessible bag that has food scraps and disposed leftovers. Ensure that all trash bags are kept in trash bins with tightly sealed lids and plan to frequently take food scraps to outdoor trash receptacles.
It’s Party Time – Keep Your Pet Safe During Holiday Festivities
- Inform Your Guests: Not all pets do well with new people, and not everyone enjoys being around animals, so let your guests know before they arrive that there will be a four-legged furball also attending the holiday parties. If your pet is skiddish or overly excitable by nature, plan to keep him or her in a secluded room with their crate/kennel, comfortable bedding and a few familiar toys and make sure it is communicated that this area is off-limits to guests.
- Don’t Forget the Tags: Regularly check that your pet’s tags are securely fastened before guests are due to arrive and double check that all tags and microchip data entries contain your up-to-date contact information. You can learn more about microchipping by checking out this post on the blog.
- Watch the Door: With a multitude of guests coming in and out of your home during the holiday season, there may be more opportunities for your pet to accidentally slip out the door and become lost during moments when folks are in transit. Keep a close eye monitoring where your pet is throughout the duration of any holiday parties, especially as guests are entering and leaving your home.
- Visiting Pets: Should your guests request to bring along a furry loved one of their own to the parties or holiday family gatherings, remember to keep the temperament of your pet and how they generally behave around other animals top of mind before agreeing to this request. Consider asking the guest to come early to the party or event with their pet so that the animals can spend some time acclimating before the other guests arrive. During this initial meeting, monitor both animals’ interactions closely for signs of problems so that you can make the appropriate adjustments to avoid harm to any guests or pets.
- Sharing Food is (Not) Caring: While sharing a buffet of delicious treats for guests can be one of the most enjoyable elements of holiday festivities, some of those goodies may be harmful if ingested by your fur babies. Encourage your guests to not share scraps and nibbles of party food and be prepared to lightly clean throughout the party to ensure that plates with leftover food are not left on tables or other surfaces that are easily accessible to pets. Ensure that no party food is left out overnight; tightly wrap all leftover meat bones and carcasses in plastic before putting them in firmed sealed trash bins.
You can lean more on how to keep your pets safe during the holiday season by checking out the following resources: