Keeping Your Pet Safe During the Holiday Season

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With the holiday season fast approaching, the temperature is beginning to cool, smiles are spreading across everyone’s faces, and the air is infused with a sense of cheerfulness. Like any other time of the year, however, the holidays can potentially endanger the wellbeing of beloved pets. Follow these tips to ensure that your pet enjoys the holidays as much as you do (and avoids any unnecessary trips to the vet).

Food

The holiday season brings with it a myriad of delicious treats. We all like to indulge in a seasonal feast or two; this often results in a bloated belly and a “food coma” nap for the rest of the day. If our pets make the mistake of overindulging, however, this can become far more critical.  The abundance of food increases the chances that your pet may ingest something that is harmful to them. Turkey skin and bones, chocolate pies, and yeast dough are readily available and simultaneously harmful to your pet. Resist the urge to offer your pet table scraps, and instead opt to give them special, pet-safe treats so they too can celebrate. When the festivities are over, be sure to remove any trash bags from the house, as especially gluttonous pets are likely to dig through the garbage for leftovers.  

Decorations

Christmas trees pose a great temptation for curious pets to climb on or play with. Filled with ornaments and lights, an unsecured tree that topples over can cause total disaster. Not only is it a fast way to ruin your mood, it could also cause an unexpected trip to the vet. Any broken ornaments can harm your pet, or cause intestinal blockages if consumed. If your pet chews through the cords of electric lights, they run the risk of being burned. If you have a live tree, avoid adding other chemicals, like aspirin or sugar, to the water, as there is a strong possibility your pet will ingest it. If you do decorate your home with a tree, try to anchor it to the ceiling, door frame, or any other solid surface. If possible, decorate with primarily non-breakable ornaments and always closely monitor any lights that you hang up.

There are many festive plants, such as mistletoe, pine, cedar, and holly which are dangerous for your pets to eat. Many of these holiday favorites are toxic to pets, or will at the very least cause intestinal blockages if consumed. Potpourri, another common fragrant decoration for the holidays, is equally toxic for your pets and can damage your pet’s mouth, skin, and intestines. These things are to be kept out of the reach of inquisitive pets.

Parties

Everybody feels a bit of stress when hosting a party—there are seemingly endless details to be attended to, cleaning to be done, and guests with which to mingle. This experience is significantly more stressful for your pets, however. Even the most social pet can experience a great deal of anxiety with a constant parade of strangers coming into their home. The best place for your pet during a party is locked up in a quiet part of your house (like a bedroom, or spare room).

With the front door constantly opening and closing, there is also an increased chance of your pet escaping outside and disappearing. If you do decide to let your pet have free reign of the house during parties, it is imperative to make sure their identification tags are up to date and that they’ve been microchipped. Nothing can sour the holiday season like a missing pet; proper identification can help ensure that your pet is returned home before it’s time to open presents.

Travel

Whether you decide to board your pet or bring them along with you during holiday travels, there are certain preparations to be made. First, consider how you plan to travel. If you can drive to your destination, be sure to take frequent breaks when traveling so that your pet can stretch their legs and relieve themselves. Pets should also never be allowed to freely roam the vehicle and should be contained to a single seat. If you must travel by air, it is suggested that you leave your pet at home. Speak with your veterinarian to discuss any possible risk factors that air travel may pose to your pet. Consider boarding your pet while you travel, or hiring a pet sitter to stay with or check in on your four-legged best friends.

To see a more comprehensive travel guide for pets, check out our previous blogpost: Getting Your Pet Ready for Travel

Bonnie Ruszczyk

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