As you prepare for the holidays, it’s easy to forget about the small things that can cause a real danger to dogs and cats.
By taking a little time to ensure your home is ready for a pet-friendly holiday, you can evade possible tragedy or large vet bills. Here are 8 tips:
1. Secure the Tree
Decorating your home can be one of the best holiday traditions. If you have a Christmas tree, keep this in mind: Dogs and cats can be drawn to the exhilarating outdoor smells that the tree brings inside, so make sure it’s secure in the stand so pets don’t accidentally push it over.
2. Choose Ornaments Wisely
Ornaments, tinsel and lights can cause serious hazards. Keep both breakable ornaments and small stuffed ones out of reach; they can easily be mistaken for a dog toy. Wires for lights need to be hidden so your pets don’t chew through them and cause an electrical shock.
Ornamental string, ribbons and tinsel may attract your cat. Although he will love playing with these decorations, they can cause damage to his GI tract. It may be easier to keep your tree separate, perhaps in a room where the animals cannot enter. Or put up a baby gate.
3. Avoid Giving Your Pet Fragile Presents
If you choose to give your pet gifts for the holiday, make sure the presents are big enough to minimize the choking hazard.
Be aware of your dog’s chewing habits; if you have a puppy or an active chewer, avoid toys that can be broken into smaller pieces.
Even my own dog, who rarely chews anything other than Greenies, started carrying around a small plastic cat ball with a bell inside. It broke into several small pieces in his mouth. Luckily, it didn’t cause any damage, but it sure freaked me out!
New stuffed squeaker toys can be a hit; but make sure that if your dog rips out the squeaker, you quickly throw it away.
4. Keep Harmful Foods Away From Your Pets
Sweet, fatty and spicy foods that we commonly eat during the holidays are certainly not intended for pets and can cause an upset stomach or even life-threatening illness.
If you have these foods around your home, make sure they are securely put away and out of reach to avoid a toxic emergency.
5. Stay Away From Dangerous Holiday Plants
Other things that can cause severe illness in dogs and cats are holly and mistletoe. If you have animals, it’s better to avoid this seasonal shrubbery.
6. Helpful Holiday Party Hints
If you plan to throw a holiday party, consider leaving a cute, festive note on the food table to remind guests not to share holiday treats with the pets. Drinking cups (especially those filled with alcohol) and plates should be kept out of reach of your pets.
Another tip: Give your pets an early dinner before the party so they are less tempted to beg for food.
7. Create a Safe Haven for Pets During Parties
During parties, some pets can become overstimulated and stressed out, so have a safety spot available. This location should be away from the festivities and should have fresh water, a couple of toys and a comfortable place to sleep.
8. Prevent Your Pet From Slipping Out
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Finally, notify your neighbors that you will be having a party and to call you right away if they see one of your pets outside unattended.
For more tips to keep your pets safe during the holidays, check out this video featuring veterinarian Emily Pointer of the ASPCA: