The holiday season is here, and with it, the many celebrations, feasts, and family gatherings so many of us enjoy. Of course, we want to include our pets in the merriment, but what does this mean for them?
From rich holiday foods, to parties and travel, to seasonal decor, it’s important to be aware of how to keep our best furry friends safe this holiday season. As veterinarians and veterinary support staff, we’ve seen it all. Our time tested holiday pet safety tips are designed to keep your pet happy, healthy, and out of the emergency room this holiday season.
Let the Feasting Begin?
Large meals, gift wrapped goodies, and treats everywhere means that close supervision is necessary when it comes to holiday pet safety. Pets don’t digest fatty, salty, or sugary foods well, and certain items are toxic to them. Letting pets indulge means the risk of GI upset, foreign body obstruction, or even pancreatitis – a painful and potentially life threatening condition.
Holiday foods for pets to avoid include:
- Grapes and raisins
- Raw bread dough
- Onions, chives and garlic
In addition, pets should not have access to:
- Raw poultry or meat
- Wrappers, turkey string, or aluminum foil
- Garbage bins
The Greenery (And Other Decor)
Seasonal decorations are beautiful, but may pose a hazard to your pet’s safety. Prevention is the best way to avoid a decor disaster. Take the following steps:
- Discourage pets from making the Christmas tree their playground. Anchor the tree to a wall to prevent it from falling over. Place a gate around the tree to prevent pets from drinking the tree water which can contain harmful chemicals.
- Consult the ASPCA list of toxic and non-toxic plants before bringing holiday greenery into your home. Holly, poinsettias, mistletoe, and amaryllis are all toxic to pets. Better yet, use artificial plants when possible.
- Candles shed a lovely glow, but can also cause singed whiskers and tails if left unattended. Consider LED lights instead.
- Keep cords and string lights off the floor and out of pets’ reach to avoid entanglement and electric shock.
Holiday Parties and Travel
Some pets take a crowd in stride, and thrive with the social scene. If this applies to your pet, the holiday parties of the season may be no big deal. But if your pet is shy or anxious, the loud noises, strangers, and change in routine may cause them stress.
Try to keep your pet’s feeding, walking, and playtime routine as close as possible to normal during the holiday season. Exercise is a great way to minimize stress, so make sure your pet gets plenty. And seek out doggy day care, a pet sitter, or a quiet room for a few hours if your pet needs a break.
If you are traveling – with or without pets – spend plenty of time on planning and preparation. Here are some tips:
- Research and book a boarding facility or a pet sitter early
- Schedule an appointment with us for your pet’s required health certificate, if traveling with your pet out of state or internationally
- Call airlines for pet travel rules
- Never leave a pet in a parked car
For holiday travel, make sure you bring along your pet’s creature comforts, including their pet bed, food bowls, collar and ID tags, toys, treats, and medical records. Pets who travel should always be microchipped.
Holiday Pet Safety
This year, you might be excited about holiday parties and celebrations. But remember that celebrating the season also can mean slowing down and spending extra time with family, including your pet. A holiday movie on the couch together, an extra walk in the brisk winter weather, or more petting and brushing time all add to a wonderful holiday season.