The last thing you want to do this holiday season is to rush your pet to the vet for emergency care. An emergency vet visit isn’t just stressful, but can also be expensive. Take your pet into consideration as you plan for the holidays and use these tips to help keep your pets safe.
Avoid Feeding Human Food to Pets
The holiday season is upon us, and that can only mean one thing – delicious food. The holiday season is a magical and delicious time, and we’re not the only ones who think so. Large turkeys or hams, buttery mashed potatoes and rich desserts make a filling meal for humans. Our pets love the holidays too because that often means that they get a few extra treats throughout the season. There are however many ingredients in holiday dinners that can be toxic, even fatal for your pets.
You might be surprised how many regular holiday ingredients can cause serious health risks for your pet. Most pet owners know chocolate can be a huge danger for many animals. It’s less widely known that fattening meat scraps, like turkey or ham, can also harm your pet. These bits of meat can cause diarrhea, severe vomiting and other abdominal issues. These are just a few possible harmful foods to avoid so be sure to speak with your vet about other potential food hazards for your pet.
Make sure your guests know not to give table scraps to your pets, even if they beg. As a safe alternative maybe give guests the opportunity to feed your pet his favorite treat or chew stick.
Plan Decorations Carefully
Holiday decorations provide plenty of chances for your pets to get into mischief. Cats, in particular, are prone to curiously gnawing on holiday decorations that can be dangerous. As you plan your holiday décor, try to keep anything dangerous out of reach of your pets.
Tinsel and string can cause serious intestinal issues for pets if ingested. As the ingested tinsel wraps around your pet’s tongue or intestine, it can cut into the soft tissue. Most foreign objects your pet could ingest result in an expensive abdominal surgery to remove the object and help repair the damaged tissue.
If you decorate a Christmas tree, consider starting your decorations a few branches up to deter pets from messing with ornaments and lights. A Christmas tree is one of the biggest hurdles to holiday decorating for car owners. Place aluminum foil around the base of your tree to create an alarm if your cat gets adventurous.
Your dog probably won’t try to climb the tree, but they might still bump the bottom branches, which could knock glass ornaments to the ground. Decorate the lower branches with plastic or shatter-proof ornaments and leave the breakable ones for the higher branches.
Candles are another big risk for pets around the holidays. Before lighting a candle, be sure curious pets can’t reach it by putting it on a high shelf or table. Staying in the room while a candle is lit is a big part of holiday safety, even if pets aren’t around.
Remove Poisonous or Toxic Plants
A lot of traditional holiday plants can cause serious stomach issues for your pets. Plants like poinsettias and mistletoe aren’t poisonous to pets. They usually still cause mouth irritation and stomach pain for your pets. Make sure mildly toxic plants like poinsettias are displayed out of reach of a curious pet.
Lilies, on the other hand, are incredibly toxic to cats. Most common varieties, like tiger lilies and Easter lilies, can cause severe kidney failure. Only a couple petals, and sometimes even the pollen, can cause serious kidney issues for your cat. If you have a cat, it’s usually best to avoid lilies altogether. Lilies aren’t nearly as toxic to dogs. Dogs that ingest lilies will more likely experience a mild upset stomach instead of internal failures. However, it’s always a safer bet to keep them out of reach.
Wrap Gifts Away from Pets
In addition to string or ribbon on presents, the process of wrapping gifts can be hazardous to your pets. The small bits of paper or tape that get left behind as you finish wrapping are easy for a pet to grab think they’ve found a snack. This can cause intestinal blockage, which makes it impossible for your pet to pass the object or digest food once the blockage is in place.
Scissors can also be a hazard to your pets. As you try to cut through wrapping paper, your pet might try to investigate what you’re doing. Your pet could easily get in front of your scissors without you noticing. The sharp edge of the scissors can leave your pet with lacerations or puncture wounds.
Secure Large Objects and Electrical Wires
Large holiday displays can be a hazard for your pet if not properly secured. Dogs are prone to get excited and bump into décor. A wagging tail may not seem like much, but it could be just enough force to knock a display off a table or send a wobbly tree to the ground.
A Christmas tree, for example, should always be placed in a corner to reduce the chance it can fall to the floor. Use a large, sturdy base to keep your tree upright. If you have holiday displays on tabletops, be sure they’re out of reach of your pets.
Electrical wires for lights or décor should have protective covers to reduce the chance your pets can chew on the wires. Always unplug your electrical wires before leaving home or going to bed to reduce your chance of a pet getting into the wires and starting a home fire.
Give Your Pet a Safe Place at Home and Away
The holidays are a great time to invite guests over, watch neighborhood fireworks or leave town to visit family and friends. Make sure the experience is as enjoyable for your pets as it is for you by giving them a safe place during the holidays. Much like when you move with a pet, your pet should have a safe, dedicated spot that makes them comfortable.
If you’re inviting friends over, give your pet their own quiet space in a separate room away from the excitement or visitors. Your dog should have a kennel or a bed with a comfortable spot to lay. Don’t forget to provide water and their favorite toys. Give your cat a dark, quiet spot that lets them hide from the commotion. The space under a bed or a soft spot in a closet might be great places for your cat. Consider moving pet food and water into a quiet, separate section of your home for the duration of your gathering.
Leaving town for the holidays and can’t take your pets? Find a reputable pet sitter or take them to a trustworthy boarding facility while you’re away. Many dogs can comfortably go to a boarding kennel while you’re away, but make sure you let the kennel staff know how your pet feels about other dogs. Cats tend to be more comfortable in their own homes, so it might be a good idea to try and find a pet sitter to visit at least once a day to feed, water and check on them.
Pets are a part of the family in many households. Make sure to protect them and help them feel comfortable this holiday season. Taking the time to pet-proof your holiday décor and activities is also a smart way to protect your home from the damage that pets might cause.