The holiday season is a fun, but stressful time of year. It's easy to become focused on the little things: picking out
the right gifts for people without spending too much money, decorating and cleaning to prepare to have guests over, finding a cute holiday outfit, and trying to make fun plans for New Year's Eve. In fact, you can become so obsessed with all of the details surrounding the holiday that you might become neglectful about the really important things... like your pets. Whether you have a dog, a cat, a hamster, or a bunny, your pets always deserve special attention, especially around the holiday season, when there are more hazards in your home than usual. There are a few ways to keep your pet safe this holiday season that you need to be aware of.
You might not think about the fact that certain holiday decorations could be harmful to your pet, even if they seem really innocent. You also might not know that there are lots of classic holiday foods that could leave your pet pretty sick, especially a dog, who just wants to eat everything. And maybe you don't give much thought to their well-being when company comes over. It's normal to forget about these things, but it's always good to bring them back to your attention so you can make sure your pets have a safe holiday season.
Below are a few ways you can ensure that your pets stay healthy and happy during the holidays, no matter how busy you may be:
Keep them away from foods that will make them sick.
It's fine to sneak your dog some human treats every so often, but you have to be extra careful about this during the holidays. Dogs have to
stay away from things like chocolate, macadamia nuts (they can be poisonous), eggnog, any foods made with a lot of garlic and onions, ham and bacon, anything that contains nutmeg (this can be toxic), raisins and grapes, and turkey bones.
Take them for a long walk before company comes over.
Having a bunch of people come over for a holiday celebration? That's fun for you, but not as fun for your pets. If you have a dog, they can easily become overwhelmed and stressed out by the amount of people in your home, or they can get overly excited and be destructive. To keep them in line, take them for a long walk before company comes over. This will tire them out and keep them from getting stressed.
Clean up wrapping paper quickly.
When you're ripping open gifts, it's easy to get reckless and throw the paper all over the floor, thinking, "I'll clean this up later." Try not to do this! Pets like cats and dogs can play with it and even eat it, and too much paper can be damaging to their intestines and leave them feeling sick. Clean it up right away.
Keep your Christmas tree pet-friendly.
Your Christmas tree may look beautiful, but it could be a hazard to your dog or cat. There are so many reasons why: eating the fallen pine needles from a real tree could give them digestive problems, they can knock down ornaments that can break and hurt them (or even cause them to end up ingesting materials like glass), and they can jump onto the tree, causing it to fall. If you have cats, avoid things like tinsel, which is attractive to them and will make them want to eat it. Clean up after your real tree on a regular basis so there aren't needles everywhere. And maybe even consider putting a baby gate around the tree to keep it safe.
Create a safe zone for them.
Again, a lot of company can be stressful to pets, especially cats. If you're having a big party, create a safe space in your home for your pets. Maybe block off a room that is on the more quiet side, and fill it with their bed, their toys, some water, and some treats. Allow them to feel comfortable and secure in their own home even while everyone is partying outside the door.
Warn your guests against feeding your pets.
You might be well-versed in the foods that are really bad for your pets, but your guests may not be. If you're leaving your dog or cat out while everyone eats, make sure everyone knows not to feed your pets anything on the table. It's just the safest option!
Beware of holiday plants.
If you're decorating with real Christmas-themed plants this year, please be careful, because some can make your pets sick.
Holly and mistletoe can be mildy toxic if consumed, so just make sure your pets can't reach them. If you have cats, know that poinsettias, which are very popular around the holidays, are very toxic to cats and can make them really, really sick. Do not keep them in your home.
Don't let them get near candy.
You probably already know your pets shouldn't be ingesting chocolate. But they should also stay away from most candies, especially those that are made with
xylitol. This is a sugar substitute that is usually found in sugarless candy, chewing gum, or baked goods. When eaten, xylitol can cause a drop in blood sugar, liver damage, seizures, and even death in dogs.
Be careful about your tree ornaments.
Again, it's really important to be careful about how you're decorating your tree. You don't want your pets breaking ornaments to create a choking hazard or an intestinal blockage hazard. Hang delicate ornaments out of reach or leave them off altogether. You should also be careful about lights: your pets can get tangled in them if they play with them, which could lead to burns. And if they bite the wire, they could get shocked.
Give them the right gifts.
It's the holidays, and your pets deserve to be spoiled too! Buy them gifts, just make sure you get the right stuff.
Zukes points out that novelty holiday toys can often be chewed apart more easily and destroyed faster because they're cheaply made. Instead, buy them something more sturdy. And don't get crazy with treats if you know they are sensitive eaters!