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Christmas Holiday Safety Tips for Pets

The Christmas season is filled with new things (food! people! smells! stuff!). This can be a fascinating and exciting adventure for some pets - which can also include getting into some mischief! Here are a few tips for keeping your pets safe while enjoying some holiday cheer.

Be Prepared To Get Through The Holiday Season

Some pet supply stores and vet clinics operate on reduced hours. Make sure you have everything you need to keep your pet happy and healthy until the New Year. Include any any medication that your pet will need to get him through the holiday season - it can be harder to get in touch with your regular vet to refill prescriptions over the holidays.

Supervise Pets Around Holiday Decorations

Some things to watch for include:

  • Holiday decorations
    Ribbons, tinsel, ornamental balls, lights, fake "snow", and other decorations can be irresistible to some dogs and cats but may cause harm. For example, illness or injury can result from pointy hooks and broken ornaments, inhaled "snow" and glitter, a table cloth playfully yanked down with all the contents falling on top of the pet, ingested tinsel or ribbons or broken snow globes or even "people treats" like popcorn or candy canes. Consider placing decorations higher up on the tree where your pet can't reach and make sure they aren't accessible to pets if they're left alone.

  • The Christmas tree
    Make sure your pet can't drink the water around the base of the tree, since it can contain preservatives or other chemicals or bacteria. Use something like a Christmas tree stand cover to prevent access. Pets should also be prevented from munching on the needles from the tree; they can puncture your pet's stomach or intestines. Supervise him to ensure he doesn't inadvertantly (or purposefully!) knock over the tree in his enthusiasm. Consider using a metal dog play pen to prevent access to the tree when dogs can't be supervised - place the panels around the tree to keep your dog away, yet still allow him the freedom to hang around the house like he usually does!

  • Electrical cords
    Keep cords hidden, taped down, or covered so that pets aren't tempted to pull them up and chew them. Doing so can result in electrical burns or shock.

  • Candles
    Use candles only with supervision, and keep them safely out-of-reach of pets. While pretty, candles can easily be knocked over by a playful paw or inquisitive nose.

  • Toys, wrapping or packaging materials, and batteries
    These can also pose a risk if pets decide to ingest them.

  • Holiday plants
    Holly, mistletoe, lillies, and poinsettia can be poisonous to pets. Make sure they're stored where curious pets can't reach them.

Holiday Gatherings

Supervise your pet at holiday gatherings and special events. The noise, unfamiliar surroundings, strangers (including Santa!), and other commotion may be confusing or even frightening to your pet. Be "tuned in" to your pet - remove him from the situation if he is showing signs of stress.

If your pet doesn't enjoy the hubbub of the holidays, choose a quieter accommodation or arrange that your pet can stay safely in a room away from the festivities (note, if you're staying away from home, a crate can come in handy). Make sure your pet is wearing identification at all times.

Are you staying with a friend or family member as a guest? Here are some tips on polite pet etiquette.

Monitor Your Pet's Diet

Treats are in abundance during the holidays. Holiday food tends to be rich and fatty, or sweet and inappropriate. Many food items use xylitol as a sweetener, which is very toxic to pets. Consuming "people food" can cause stomach upset in your pet or worse. If you can't resist sharing, limit the amount you give your pet or try to offer healthier alternatives.

Watch to make sure your pet doesn't decide to snack on food-soaked strings, plastic wrap, tinfoil, paper plates, food wrappers, or any similar items. Also caution pet-loving guests who may find it hard to resist a furry face expectantly waiting for a handout.

Better yet, buy your pet his very own special treats to enjoy!

Give Your Pet A Place To Escape.

He should have a quiet room or space away from all the commotion, with comfortable bedding, ample fresh water, and maybe a snack or two. Pets who are shy or reserved may prefer to stay in his own space right from the beginning, but even the friendliest, most outgoing pets can reach the point where they've had enough. Be "in tune" with pet and watch for signs of stress or discomfort.

House Guests

Some pets love new people - new friends! Yay! - while others are wary, reserved, or even afraid. Don't let guests overwhelm your pets, and let pets go to their "safe room" whenever they like. Also ask guests to keep their stuff safely closed in their own rooms so that pets can't accidentally get into it (this includes gifts, snacks, people medications, etc).

Holiday Getaways

Looking to enjoy some pampering this holiday season? Fortunately, many types of accommodations accept pets so that you don't have to choose between taking a much-needed break away from home, and leaving the pooch behind. Make accommodations arrangements as early as possible to avoid disappointment - and confirm their pet policy. Pet policies may change during the holiday season, due to the number of other guests or occurrence of special events.

If you are thinking of boarding your pet instead, make arrangements as soon as you are able; boarding facilities fill up quickly for the holiday season. Check resources like PawShake or GoFetch if you need a pet-sitter over the holidays.

Be Prepared

Know which vet clinics are open over the holiday season, including an emergency clinic that's open 24/7. Have the numbers and addresses handy in case you need them.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!




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