Tips for Keeping Pets Safe and Healthy this Holiday Season

Tips for Keeping Pets Safe and Healthy this Holiday Season
Image: Pixabay
December 16, 2015

'Tis the season for celebration. The weeks between Thanksgiving and the new year are a prime time for holiday parties and other festivities, but these festivities can be hazardous for our four-legged family members.

Keeping our pets safe should be an important part of holiday celebrations, and doing so is as easy as making a few changes and setting some ground rules.

Safe Decorating

To a playful pet, your Christmas tree might look like a giant toy of sparkly fun. Be sure to securely anchor your tree so it doesn't tip and fall should your cat decide to climb its branches.

Dogs and most cats have pretty low standards when it comes to the water they drink. Tree water is considered a holiday treat for our pets. Tree water, however, can contain fertilizers and other additives that help the tree alive. These fertilizers can be harmful to your pet, sometimes causing serious illness. Stagnant water, especially if it isn't changed daily, is also a breeding ground for bacteria that could also cause your pet to become ill.

Poinsettias are thought to be very deadly to animals, but are actually only mildly toxic. Lilies, holly and mistletoe are much more dangerous. Lilies, for example, can cause kidney failure in cats. Mistletoe can cause an upset stomach and cardiovascular problems. Instead, opt for silk or artificial plants that your pets won't find as tasty.

Tinsel might seem innocuous, but cats love this sparkly light-catching toy that's easy to bat around in their mouths. Tinsel can be easily swallowed which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration, and surgery.

Family Gatherings

Before your friends and family come by, take your dog for a long walk. This should tire him out and relieve some of your stress from holiday preparations. Feed your pets before guests arrive to avoid a hungry dog later.

Pets, especially dogs, shouldn't be forced to interact with your guests. This can cause extreme anxiety and stress, which could lead to your dog lashing out. Provide your pet with a safe place that is off limits from guests, especially children. Allowing your pet to retreat to a safe place when things get to crazy will help keep them calm throughout the festivities.

Don't be afraid to set ground rules for how your guests deal with your pets. This could pertain to what your guests feed your pets or how they interact.

If your guests are staying over, make sure that they keep their medications in a safe and secure place and out of your pet's reach.

Food Safety

Those big puppy eyes can be tempting. Your guests might want to treat your pup with a piece of leftover turkey or Christmas ham. Set a ground rule to keep people food on the table and keep treats handy should your guest want to spoil your pup.

Refresh yourself on foods that are harmful to your pets and share that information with your guests. Grapes, raisins, currants can cause kidney failure in dogs. Xylitol, a sugar substitute, can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar and liver failure in dogs. Chocolate and fatty meat scraps are very toxic to both dogs and cats.

If your pets have a habit of scavenging for food when no one is looking, keep them out of the kitchen using baby gates or keep them confined to a room while food is available.