Ho Ho Ho, What You Should Know!
If you’re concerned about the safety of your pets this holiday season you need to know that Ho, ho, ho the Mistletoe is not good for your dog!
As you gear up to celebrate the holidays, don’t forget your pets are family and need special attention this time of year. After all, nothing can kill your buzz or spoil a party like an emergency trip to the veterinary clinic.
These 17 tips can help keep your holiday season safe and sound for all:
A. Plan Ahead
Make sure you know how to get to the closest 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic before there’s an emergency and plan your travel route so you’re not trying to find your way when stressed and in the event of a real emergency.
Always keep these numbers posted in an easy-to-find location:
Your veterinarian’s phone number
24/7 emergency veterinary clinic (if different)
ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435
B. Be Careful with Seasonal Plants and Decorations
Oh, Christmas Tree Safety
Securely anchor your tree so it doesn't tip and fall.
Christmas trees can easily tip over if pets climb or jump on them. Securing your tree will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling.
Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up sick with nausea or diarrhea should he decide to take a drink.
Do not add aspirin, sugar, or anything to the water for your tree if you have pets in the house.
Avoid Mistletoe & Holly
Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems too.
Many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Artificial plants made from silk or plastic are a good alternative or choose other pet-safe flowers.
Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching "toy" that's easy to bat around, carry in their mouths and just plain play with.
Tinsel, like many other holiday decorations, is tempting for all pets to eat. However, if ingested it can cause intestinal blockages and even result in more serious issues that can require surgery.
Though fun and pretty, ornaments can be hazardous for pets.
Broken ornaments can cause injuries and ingested ornaments can cause intestinal blockage or even toxicity.
Keep all glass and plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. Note: Keep homemade ornaments, like those made of salt-dough or other food-based materials, out of reach of pets.
Don't leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock them over.
Be sure to use appropriate candle holders too, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candles out!
Better yet, purchase battery operated candles – they’re safe and relatively inexpensive
Shop for Battery Candles
Wires, Presents and others Oh My!!
Keep wires and batteries covered and away from areas your pets can reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to a pet’s mouth and esophagus.
Also, gifts and gift bags, especially if they have handles or string, can become lethal if a pet gets it wrapped around its neck or gets in and cannot get out.
Long, stringy things are a feline's dream but are risky if they involve ribbon, yarn or loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery.
Surprise kitty with a new ball that's too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer.
- Potpourris Safety
It might add a good aroma and holiday cheer to your home, but potpourris should be kept out of reach of inquisitive pets.
Liquid potpourris is risky to pets because it contains essential oils and cationic detergents that can severely damage your pet’s mouth, eyes and skin. Solid potpourris can cause problems too if eaten.
C. Holiday Food Dangers
Keep people food away from pets, especially during the holidays when our food is usually rich and more fatty than usual. If you want to share holiday treats with your pets, make or buy treats formulated just for them. The following people foods are a no-go when it comes to sharing with your animals:
- Chocolate Safety
Although chocolate is an essential part of the holidays for many people, it is toxic to dogs and cats.
The toxicity of chocolate varies based on the type of chocolate, the size of your pet, and the amount ingested. Even so, it’s safer to consider all chocolate off limits for pets.
Also avoid treats that contain Xylitol; an artificial sweetener often found in baked goods, candy and chewing gum that’s been linked to liver failure and death in dogs.
- Turkey and Turkey Skin Safety
Sometimes even in small amounts Turkey can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis.
Other table scraps, including gravy and meat fat, should also be kept away from pets.
Many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets, including onions, raisins and grapes.
During the holidays, when our own diets tend toward extra-rich foods, table scraps can be especially fattening and hard for animals to digest and can also cause pancreatitis.
This might seem obvious, but enterprising pet(s) will go to great lengths for a tasty treat, so keep pets away from the table and unattended plates of food.
- Clear the Food ASAP
It’s no fun but picking-up leftovers and clearing the table is really the way to go as soon as dinner is over and especially before you leave the table.
Dispose of carcasses and bones – and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging – in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door). Be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans too.
- Careful with cocktails: If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.
- Selecting special treats: Looking to stuff your pet's stocking? Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible.Kongs that you can stuff with healthy foods or chew treats that are safely digested are a good way to go.
A list of People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets can be found here.
D. Plan a Pet-Safe Holiday Gathering
We all have our opinion(s) of “house guests” but no matter yours, they have a huge potential to upset your pets. Even though your pet is probably too nice to admit this.
Even pets who aren’t normally shy may become nervous in the hubbub that can accompany a holiday gathering.
If you are hosting or even attending one this year, keep the following pet etiquette in mind to reduce the emotional stress on your pet and protect your guests from possible injury too:
- House rules
If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention while you're tending to the party, set some rules. Make sure your guests know your expectations, are aware of your dos and don’ts and know what you will and won’t allow.
It’s not a bad idea to post your house rules where all can see.
It’s a good idea to inform your guests, ahead of time, that you have pets or if other guests may be bringing pets to your house.
Guests with allergies or compromised immune systems (due to pregnancy, disease, or medications/ treatments that suppress the immune system) need to be aware of the pets (especially exotic pets) in your home so they can take any needed precautions.
- Give Your Pet Alone Time
Solitaire is not just a game: Give your pet(s) their own quiet room or space where they can safely retreat if you are having a large party, especially one where people you do not know are attending and might break your rules.
Don’t forget the fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or crate or in a separate room away from the commotion.
Solitude Note: Pets that are nervous around visitors should be put in another room or a crate with a favorite toy. If your pet is particularly upset by houseguests, talk to your veterinarian about possible solutions to this common problem.
- Nise no-noso
As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat or puppy’s intestines and, if ingested, can result in the need for surgery.
Noisy poppers and other holiday loudness can terrify pets (much like fireworks) and may cause them to escape, damage sensitive ears and can cause overall stress for your pets. That’s not cool!
- Watch the exits
Even if your pets are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely, especially when people are entering or leaving your home.
While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and get lost. Also, not cool for you or the pet.
- Identification tags and microchips
Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information. That way, if they do sneak out, they’re more likely to be returned.
If your pet isn’t already microchipped, talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of this simple procedure.
Summing it Up
Most pet owners are familiar with these tips, but each year accidents happen and, just like putting on your seat belt in a car, there are routine precautions you can take to keep yourself, your kids, friends, family and pets safe during the holidays. Have a “pawesome” holiday season!