The holidays can be such a joyful time of year - getting together with friends and family, snow flakes flying, lots of good food, and gift exchanges. Be sure your pets are included in the joy by keeping them safe during the holidays!
1. Holiday Plants If you enjoy decorating with plants, including Christmas trees, be cautious of poisonous plants including: lillies (extremely poisonous to cats!), holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, Christmas cactus and poinsettias. Particularly with cats, who enjoy munching on leafy things, pretty much every holiday decoration plant is bad for them... and most of these plants can cause life threatening poisoning. Even Christmas trees can be a problem, if your pet eats the needles, ingests wood, or drinks from the tree water which can harbor mold, chemical additives or fertilizers. Avoid Christmas plants if you have a pet who likes snacking on them. If you must have these plants, keep them in a completely inaccessible place, on a high shelf that you know your cat can't reach, consider a fake tree (or other alternative), or place a pet gate around the tree. If you are concerned your pet may have ingested a poisonous plant, or notice abnormal vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, drooling, difficulty breathing or seizures, get to a vet immediately!
2. Holiday Decorations Those shiny Christmas balls are irresistible to many pets (it's like an even more exciting tennis ball!) and both cats and dogs can be caught red handed playing with tree decorations. Use plastic ball decorations so they do not shatter if pushed from their hanging place. Hanging decorations high out of a pets reach can be helpful, but if your cat (or dog) is a climber, secure your tree to the wall so it does not topple over. Twist ties or bendable hangers can help your ornaments cling on if you have a pet that enjoys undoing all your decorating. Tinsel, ribbons, and other string type decorations, especially if they are rustly, can be irresistible to pets. If you have a decoration snacker, avoid these or place them out of reach. Strings of lights are fascinating to pets, especially if they flash or alternate, again, place them out of reach or don't use them to prevent your pet from chewing on the cords or lights themselves. Snowglobes can be filled with lots of nasty chemicals including glycol (antifreeze), so if broken, do not let your pet ingest these chemicals or step on broken glass. If you use real candles during the holidays, do not leave them unattended where a pet could get burned or tip them over and start a fire!
3. Holiday Foods Share your meals carefully with pets this time of year. Holiday meals can host toxic foods for our pets like chocolate (especially dark and bakers chocolate), artificial sweetners, grapes and raisins, onions and garlic, macadamia nuts, and alcohol. Be careful what you share with your fur kids and don't leave the kitchen unattended with a counter surfer in the house. Also recognize that an influx of new and/or rich foods into your pets diet can cause upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. No bones please! Raw or cooked, regardless of type, bones can shatter and cause intestinal blockages...best to stick to pet specific chew items. Share safe holiday foods in small portions, occasionally. If you leave cookies and milk out for Santa, guard them against pets getting to them first! Lock up the garbage can as well, to prevent accidental snacking.
4. Stress The holidays can completely disrupt your pets normal routine. Their home is suddenly covered in decorations and even rearranged to accommodate trees and presents, there is an influx of strangers coming into their home and their parents are gone more often. While some pets tolerate this very well, be mindful of your pets during the holiday time. Don't forget their play and exercise, even when you are busy with holiday stress. Consider keeping them in a quiet room when hosting parties, especially if you are concerned about them escaping through an open door or being fed lots of human food by people who may not know better. Be sure your pets are microchipped (with current information!), have a collar with tags on, and registered with your city or county, so if they do escape, they have a good chance of being returned.
5. New Years Similar to the 4th of July, New Years can be a stressful time for pets who dislike fireworks and similar noises. Keep your pet in a secure room and turn on the TV or radio to keep them calm. If you take your pet out to celebrate, be sure they are microchipped, have a collar and are on a secure leash, in case they decide they aren't having fun anymore and make a run for it. There are many great stress products out there for both dogs and cats like the ThunderShirt, diffusers, or even CBD products that can take the edge off for holiday stressed pets.
6. Travel If you are bringing your fur kids with you on your holiday travels, be sure you are well prepared. If you are traveling internationally or interstate (even by car), you must have a health certificate from your veterinarian. Also bring copies of vaccination records, vet contact info and registration. Pack for your pet including extra food, water, medications and bedding. Travel safely by keeping your pet secure in the car and keeping dogs on leash in parking lots or near streets. Remember that travel can be very stressful and should not be undertaken with out some training and introducing your pets to short trips first.
We hope you and your fur babies have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!