Essential Holiday Safety Tips For Pet Parents
The holidays are a magical time of year filled with sparkling decorations, festive events, and tempting treats. But, if you’re not careful with how you deck the halls and celebrate the season, the holidays can spell bad news for your pet. Therefore, make sure you know the proper precautions, and keep holiday safety for pets at the top of your to-do list.
Keep Holiday Decorations Safe for Pets
Many of the different holiday classics you use to decorate your home can pose some real dangers to your pet. Sometimes, you might be so accustomed to putting your decorations up; you take their safety for granted. However, even the simplest, seemingly most innocent baubles can become a hazard to your faithful friend.
Christmas Trees and Pets
You might say you can’t have Christmas without a Christmas tree, but a tree presents some extra challenges if you have a pet in the family. If you opt for a live tree, ensure you keep the water fresh. Stagnant water can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that can cause your pet to experience stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting if he drinks it.
It’s also essential to regularly sweep up and remove fallen tree needles, so your pet doesn’t eat them. If ingested, these needles can cause damage to your pet’s internal organs, as well as present a potential choking hazard.
Pine Christmas trees are toxic to cats, causing potential liver damage and even death. Therefore, if you have a feline friend, opt for spruce or a fir tree. Of course, you can also opt for an artificial tree, which eliminates many of these concerns. However, regardless of whether you get a live or fake tree, make sure to fasten it securely to avoid it tipping over and harming your pet (or someone else).
Holiday Plants and Pets
In addition to pine Christmas trees being toxic for cats, several other popular holiday plants are harmful to pets. Some of the most popular Christmas plants are holly, poinsettias, and mistletoe, all of which can cause a host of problems if your pet decides to use them as a seasonal snack.
Poinsettias contain a sap that can aggravate your pet’s mouth and throat, and although not poisonous, if your pet overeats, he can experience nausea and vomiting. Holly and ivy are popular additions to holiday arrangements and garlands found in many homes, but they can also cause vomiting and abdominal pain, as can mistletoe.
Additionally, if your pet consumes a large amount of mistletoe, he can experience severe complications, including a drop in blood pressure, seizures, breathing problems, and possibly death. So, if you want to kiss someone under the mistletoe, make it an artificial sprig. Better yet, if you’re going to keep your holidays festive with floral, opt for the synthetic variety of all of these seasonal plants to ensure things are extra-safe for your animal companion.
Tinsel is one of the most popular and classic tree-trimming decorations of all time. Its light-catching properties make it shine and sparkle, adding that little extra something to your holiday cheer. However, it’s this flashy quality that makes it so appealing to your pet, especially cats. If your pet gets a hold of even a little tinsel and ends up swallowing it, it can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, a lot of pain, and unpleasant consequences (not to mention some hefty medical costs).
Likewise, be wary of small ornaments that can choke your pet or cause a blockage. Also, avoid breakable ornaments that can fall and cause injury to your pet. Nowadays, there are so many different ways to make your tree sparkle; opt for something a little safer for your fur baby.
Candles, Logs, and Lights
When placing candles or anything that involves wires or batteries around your home, ensure that these decorations are out of your pet’s reach. Don’t leave wires exposed; they can cause an electric shock or worse if your pet is a chewer. Also, batteries can cause burns in your pet’s mouth and pose a severe threat if your pet swallows them.
Don’t leave burning candles unattended; in fact, opt for LED versions, then you don’t have the added risk of your pet knocking over a candle and starting a fire. Plus, speaking of fire, fire starter logs can also cause issues if your pet ingests part of them, including choking and intestinal blockage.
Tips for Making Your Holiday Meal Safe for Pets
There is no denying that a holiday meal is one of the most memorable parts of the season. You can almost taste the stuffing and pie just thinking about them, and your jeans probably already feel one size too small. But, your pets also love the smells and tastes of the holidays, and unfortunately, not all of the yummy human food is a good fit for your pet.
Many foods that are plentiful during the holidays, like chocolate, coffee, and alcohol, are dangerous for your pet. Other seasonal classics, like turkey, can present a choking hazard if your pet gets a hold of the bones. Certain popular flavors of the season, like cinnamon, aren’t necessarily toxic for your pet but can cause a lot of irritation. Then, there are many sugar-free treats during the season that contain a sugar-substitute known as Xylitol, which is highly toxic for pets.
It’s best to avoid giving your pet any kind of human food; instead, you might want to consider giving your pup some special treats. You can fill a Rolly Cannoli with peanut butter and some of your dog’s favorites to help keep him occupied. Likewise, you can provide your kitty with some cat-nip-infused toys for an extra-stimulating play session.
Here’s a glance at popular holiday ingredients and foods that your pets should avoid:
Citrus fruits and fruits with pits
Grapes and raisins
Stems, leaves, and seeds of fruits and vegetables
Holiday Safety for Pets: Tips to Add to Your List
You may have already considered the safety aspects of your holiday decorations and feast, but there are a few additional tips to keep in mind.
Ensure your holiday guests know you have pets. Ask guests to secure their purses, coats, and other personal items so your pet doesn’t go digging and get a hold of something he shouldn’t.
If possible, provide your pet a safe, alone spot where he can be if you have a gathering of people at your home. Your pet might feel more comfortable if he knows he has an escape hatch of sorts.
Remember that loud noises can stress out some pets, so if you plan to play loud holiday music or shoot fireworks, give your pet a cozy and quiet place to rest. Similarly, if you have a dog that likes to get loud, it can stress out your guests. Therefore, if you have a dog that likes to make a fuss, take some time pre-holiday to help quell your dog’s excessive barking habit.
If your pets are around when you are opening gifts, ensure you throw all wrapping paper, bows, and take away immediately. All of these items present risks to your pet. If you plan to let your pet open his gifts, do so with an abundance of caution and make the gift “easy” to unwrap (don’t use ribbon, tape, etc.).
Keep your garbage cans throughout the house secured or put away in a cabinet. (If your dog or cat can open cabinets - yes, it happens - then take extra precautions).
Ensure that you have essential numbers at the ready. If your pet does get a hold of something dangerous or toxic, call your vet or the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 right away. Make sure to keep a close eye on your pet, and if he starts to exhibit symptoms or you are unsure what to do, get him to the vet or nearest animal emergency clinic as soon as possible.
The holidays can be full of joy and laughter for you and your pets, as long as you take a little extra time to make things pet-friendly and safe for your animal pals. From all of us at Neater Pets, here’s wishing you a safe and happy holiday season!
- Fernando Becattini