Holiday Safety Tips for Pets
Holiday Pet Safety Tips
The Christmas tree can be an irresistible temptation, especially for cats, but often for other pets as well. It should be securely anchored to prevent your pet from knocking it over. Often shiny ornaments and tinsel are attractive to pets as well. Those that can be broken and swallowed may cut the animal’s mouth or intestines or cause other problems.
Cats in particular tend to be drawn to shiny tinsel and garland and will often eat them if not prevented. You may need to put the tree in a different room from your pets, supervise them, or forgo dangerous decorations. One particularly cute trick to keep a dog away from the tree is to take large boxes, put heavy cinderblocks inside for weights, wrap them in festive paper, and use them to build a “fence” around the tree.
This Only Works if Your Dog Tends to Respect Barriers
I’ve had friends who placed the entire tree within a playpen to keep it safe from dogs and toddlers. The wires of Christmas lights can also be a danger if pets chew on them or the bulbs, and the water reservoir of a live tree can harbor harmful bacteria, and some water additives can be dangerous to pets if they drink the water.
Many plant materials traditionally used to decorate at Christmas can be toxic or cause other problems, including mistletoe, holly, lilies, and poinsettias. Silk greenery and flowers can be safer, or at least make sure your festive plants are pet-safe.
Holiday foods can prove too great a temptation for your furry friends to resist, and well-meaning children or guests might slip them a treat that would be better avoided. Chocolate especially can be dangerous for dogs, but too much turkey or other treats can cause problems, especially if your dog manages to get the bones.
Candles are another common holiday danger for pets. Your pet could knock over a candle and start a fire, or even catch on fire themselves if their fur gets in the flame. Candles should always be watched when animals are around, and blown out if you have to leave the room.
Be Aware of Gifts You or Someone Else May Want to Give Your Pets
You know your animals better than anyone – whether your dog will chew that toy to bits and risk swallowing pieces of it? If he is a heavy chewer, choose one of the almost-indestructible toys like Kongs instead. Cats love toys with ribbons, yarn, etc. but may actually eat the lengths or bite off small parts that are attached with yarn and swallow them, which could lead to a blockage and possibly surgery. Instead, try a catnip mouse without small parts, or a cat fishing pole or similar toy.
If you’re going to be traveling, you’ll have to decide if the pets are staying home or coming with you. In either case, make sure they have identification attached to their collars, since being in a strange situation or with caretakers they are not used to can increase the risk of their being lost.
If they are coming with you, bring their own bowls, litter and litterboxes, and food. Even a container of the water they are used to can be helpful, and don’t forget any meds they might need. You might want to look up the number of an emergency vet at your destination. If they are staying home, leave contact information and their vet’s information with the caretaker. It can be helpful for the caretaker to come before you leave to learn the pet’s routine.
Lastly, if fireworks are going to be a part of the New Year celebration, it’s a good idea to make sure the pets are inside in a place that helps them feel secure. The loud noises and flashes can make them panic and run away in fear, so it is safer to have them securely contained where they will be calmer too.