You may be eager to gear up for the holiday season, but are your plans pet-friendly? Many of the sights and smells are tempting for pets, while others can be frightening. By preparing appropriately, you and your pet can enjoy the holidays safely and happily. Many of the potential holiday pitfalls on this list may be familiar, while some may be surprises. Read how to avoid these hazards to ensure your holiday remains merry and bright.
#1: Christmas tree
Decked-out pine trees are beautiful to behold, whether elegant masterpieces or treasure troves of pet playthings. Tree branches provide excellent kitty climbing towers or doggy chew toys, and pine needles can poke paws and mouths, and lead to gastrointestinal issues if swallowed. The water in the tree stand can pose a threat, as well. Stagnant, dirty water, or water treated with pesticides, fertilizers, or aspirin can poison your pet, so choose a covered tree stand for safety.
#2: Festive plants
Although many people worry about the dangers of poinsettias, they are only mildly irritating to a pet’s mouth and gastrointestinal tract, and not truly toxic. Mistletoe and holly are the key plants to avoid, as well as lilies and amaryllis, which are especially toxic for cats. Avoid bringing these plants into your home, and choose non-toxic plants or silk flowers instead.
#3: Fruits and nuts
Fruits and nuts abound in gift baskets, snack bowls, side dishes, and desserts. Although a few fruits, like grapes and raisins, are potentially life-threatening, most tend to be high in sugar, which isn’t beneficial for any species. Stick to tiny amounts of safe fruits, such as apples, bananas, and berries. Like fruits, most nuts are not toxic, but they can cause intestinal blockages when swallowed whole. Macadamia nuts are the most dangerous for dogs, capable of causing weakness, staggering, tremors, and depression. Most nuts are high in fat, which can lead to life-threatening pancreatitis. To be safe, ensure your pet avoids holiday trail mix, pecan pies, bread pudding, and fruitcake.
Christmas hams glazed in brown sugar and giant Thanksgiving turkey drumsticks take center stage on dining tables. Keep them there to ensure they stay well out of paws’ reach, as these meats are high in sodium and fat and can cause pancreatitis in your pet. If you can’t resist your pet’s sad-eyed gaze, share a sliver of lean meat, such as turkey breast without the skin. Avoid giving her anything that contains a bone or that has been heavily seasoned.
Tasty treats cover tables, fill stockings, and are shared among family and friends throughout the holiday season. For your furry family member’s safety, share only pet-friendly treats. Candies and chocolate are difficult to unwrap without thumbs, and a wrapper buildup can create an intestinal obstruction. Pies, cakes, and cookies can be sweetened with xylitol, a sugar substitute toxic to dogs. These goodies are often created using cream and milk, or may be topped with large dollops of whipped cream, all which may cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets, who are often lactose-intolerant.
Festive cocktails, eggnog with rum, and other party mixers all pose a serious threat to your pet’s health. A few laps of a spilled or unattended drink can cause disorientation, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and seizures.
There’s no arguing—except by your pet—that pets look adorable dolled up in elf ears, reindeer antlers, and snowman costumes. Many pets do not appreciate uncomfortable outfits, especially when placed on their heads, which may interfere with their sensory perception. Small pieces, such as buttons and bows, can easily be chewed off and become a choking hazard or an intestinal tract obstruction. Choose a festive collar for safety instead.
#8: Electrical decorations
Bright lights are mesmerizing, but long strands of lights and extension cords appear as delightful chew toys for dogs and cats. Mouth burns, electrical shocks, and cardiac problems can arise after a nibble on a cord.
#9: Fragile decorations
For your frisky feline, nothing is more fun than batting a glass ball off your tree, and watching it shatter on the ground. Multiply that by an entire treeful of glass ornaments, and you have a minefield capable of cutting paws. Nativity scenes and other holiday decor are often made from ceramic or glass, which can easily break when knocked over by inquisitive pets, so ensure you place all delicate objects out of reach.
Pets and people enjoy snuggling in front of a roaring fire on cold nights, but pets do not always exercise common sense, leading to singed whiskers, tails, or paws. Add in tempting dangling stockings on the mantel, and your pet may be unable to resist batting at a hanging item that can potentially fall into the fire. If your pet is prone to wandering too close to the fireplace, always have the firescreen in place.
Parties at any time of year can be hectic and frightening for pets. Keep your pet separated from the hubbub, tempting foods, and overly friendly strangers by setting her up in her own party room that is off-limits to two-legged party animals.
#12: Open doors
With guests coming and going, your front door will open frequently, providing ample opportunity for a pet to dart through. If you anticipate company, block your pet’s access to the door until everyone has arrived.
#13: Cold temperatures
If your pet does escape through the open door, she may suffer from frostbite and hypothermia. When letting your pet out into your fenced-in yard for exercise and elimination purposes, keep an eye on the time and ensure she doesn’t stay out too long.
We can help clean up any holiday messes or mishaps that may befall your pet—give us a call.