The winter holiday season tends to be a flurry of activities and events, often spent with our loved ones. If you’re planning to include your four-legged family members in the festivities, here are some simple tips that can help avoid any trips to the animal emergency room. After all, those aren’t the kind of memories we’d like to make this season!
Home decor hazards
- Christmas trees can tip over if your pets climb on them or play with the lights and ornaments. Securely anchor your Christmas tree, or tie it to the ceiling or a door frame with fishing line. Use a tight-fitting tree skirt to restrict your furry friend’s access to the tree water, which may contain chemicals or additives that can cause upset stomachs and nausea when ingested.
- Tinsel and decorations might be confused for shiny, sparkly toys. Hang them out of your pet’s reach, where they won’t be tempted to nibble at or swallow the decorations. Tinsel and broken ornament shards can lead to intestinal blockages, vomiting, dehydration, or toxicity. Low-hanging Christmas lights are a burning hazard, and animals can get tangled in them or shocked if they bite through the wire.
- Menorah and decorative candles should be placed where pets can’t knock them over, burn themselves, or accidentally cause a fire. Never leave lighted candles unattended, and always use appropriate candle holders on stable surfaces. For a safer alternative, consider electric/flameless candles instead.
- Flowers and festive plants look pretty, but may pose a poison hazard to pets. Mistletoe, holly, lilies, pine and cedar are common holiday plants that can be toxic to pets who eat them. Holly and poinsettias, when ingested, can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Frequently clear any loose pine needles from live Christmas trees; the needles can puncture your curious pet’s intestines if eaten.
Holiday food favorites dos and don’ts
- Chocolates and candies are common goodies during the holiday. Stash them somewhere your animals can’t reach, and never feed your pets these kinds of treats. Chocolate and xylitol are especially toxic for dogs, and candy wrappers or lollipop sticks pose a choking hazard or stomach obstruction for cats and dogs alike. Instead, keep pet-safe treats on hand to satisfy your animal. If you have young children in or around your home, be sure to teach them that candies are not for pets.
- Human foods and table scraps, such as turkey, gravy, baked goods or cooked bones, may contain ingredients that are especially hard for animals to digest (leading to pancreatitis or dangerous bloating) or that are poisonous to our furry friends! Clear food from your tables, counters and serving areas when you’re done, and make sure food trash is put somewhere your pet can’t reach. If you want to give them something special for a holiday meal, opt for foods such as pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots or green beans. Always consult with your veterinarian first about what human foods are safe to share with your animal.
Planning for parties and guests
- A busy household and many new faces can be stressful for your pet. If you are planning to have guests in your home, provide your pet with access to a comfortable and quiet room, should they decide to retreat from the commotion. Animals that are especially nervous around new visitors should be put in a safe, stress-free and secure room where they will not be disturbed.
- Inform your guests ahead of time that your furry family member will be home. Guests with allergies or immune diseases should be aware so they can take necessary precautions. If your guests want to bring their own pets, make sure beforehand that your pets will get along — spend time supervising and acclimating the animals to one another, which can avoid injuries to them or other people.
- When ringing in the New Year, pets may be frightened by fireworks, poppers and other noisemakers; secure potentially anxious animals in a safe, escape-proof room. Clean up any confetti strings before your pet has a chance to unknowingly eat or swallow them, which can lead to intestinal blockages.
- Cocktails, champagne, and other alcoholic holiday beverages can be poisonous to animals when ingested, causing nausea, comatosis, and respiratory failure. Keep these drinks where pets cannot get to them, and make sure your animal has access to their own fresh water at all times.
Other pet safety precautions
- Gifts, presents and stocking stuffers are tempting to curious pets! Keep your four-legged companions away from gift wrapping paper and ribbons, which can block digestive tracts if swallowed. Scissors are another hazard, and should be kept where pets can’t reach.
- Have up-to-date contact information for both your pet and vet. It’s always a good idea to outfit your pet with a collar and up-to-date identification tags. If your cat or dog is not microchipped, now is a great time to do so. If they already are, be sure to keep your contact information current. Should your pet somehow become lost, an ID tag and/or microchip may help quickly reunite you with your loved one. Make sure you have the information for your family veterinarian easily available, and locate your closest 24-hour veterinary clinic beforehand. In the case of an emergency, it will allow you to act quickly.
Written by Joanna Wong, Email Marketing Manager of Core Paws