Holiday Pet Safety

December is a wonderful time of year, and it can also be hectic and stressful as we gear up for holiday festivities, family gatherings, parties, and friends visiting. The house gets decorated, and everything is beautiful and bright, lots of food preparation, and shiny wrapping paper everywhere.

If you have a pet, all the hustle and bustle around the house can be stressful, and the pretty lights and sparkling ornaments can prove enticing. We have some helpful tips and tricks to keep your pet safe. Several of these safety tips are good general rules for all year around, but a few of these are very specific to potential hazards at this time of year.

  1. As always, make sure your pet is wearing a collar with current contact information and is microchipped. These are your best chances of getting your pet back in the event they manage to get out. 
  2. Make sure that your Christmas tree is secure in the stand and not prone to tipping over. Pets may like to get close to it, cats may try to play with the ornaments, a game of chase may break out and go around the tree, so it is very important that the tree is securely mounted.
  3. Do not let your pet drink the water out of the tree stand. There may be fertilizers in some of the runoff, and the stagnant water could be filled with bacteria making your pet sick.
  4. Homes that have cats need to be even more diligent about watching their pet around the tree. Blinking and colorful lights, sparkling tinsel, shiny baubles, bird ornaments and the like can all prove to be irresistible to your kitty. If a pet tries to carry off and swallow tinsel, that can lead to several different stomach/digestive emergencies.
  5. Take caution with pets around open flames. Pets need to stay clear of fireplaces, menorahs, and burning candles so they don't burn themselves or possibly knock over a candle and start a fire.
  6. Poinsettia, lilies, mistletoe, and holly are all dangerous to pets if ingested. Keep them out of reach of your pets, and watch for leaves that fall off and wind up on the floor.
  7. Be careful at parties and gatherings with unattended drinks, plates of food, or buffet type spreads. Even the most well behaved pet could be enticed by an unguarded plate of treats. Chocolate, turkey bones, treats sweetened with xylitol, or alcoholic beverages are all dangerous to your pet.
  8. Make sure the trashcans have lids on them or are somehow secured and out of reach of your pets. The kitchen trash may have left over foods that create enticing odors, a lid can help limit that and prevent your pet from getting into it. There may be trash bags around the tree  filled with bows, ribbon, wrapping paper, or other things like twist ties used to secure toys that could all be ingested by a pet and cause a bowel obstruction.
  9. Be cautious with edible decorations like ginger bread houses, popcorn garland, candy canes, cookie ornaments and the like.
  10. Talk with guests about being cautious when opening doors to prevent escapes and to make sure they know you don't allow your pets table scraps.
  11. If you are planning a holiday party, please pay close attention to your pets for signs of stress. If possible, find a safe, quiet spot for them to relax for the evening. A crate or an off limits room can prevent stress, protect your pet, and prevent escapes.

While planning your holiday activities, just take a few extra moments to make sure your pet is accounted for in an effort to help keep them safe. Most likely your veterinary office will be closed for Christmas and/or New Year's day, making it a better plan to be safe than to have to find your local pet emergency hospital. Don't forget to include your pet in your activities, and if you happen to have some extra time off during the holidays, try and spend some of that time bonding with your pet. Taking the dog for a walk is a great way to burn off the holiday treats. 😁