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December 4, 2019

Your Holiday Pet Safety Guide

The holiday season is when we bring out all of our shiny, glistening decorations, yummiest food, and glowing candles. Unfortunately, our pets love shiny, glowing, yummy things too, and they’ll make every effort to topple your tree and eat your fruitcake if you’re not careful.

We’ve covered many of the common holiday decorations and foods you can protect this season in this holiday pet safety guide. Follow these tips and you can protect your fragile decorations, have guests over, and not worry about your pet ingesting something that doesn’t make them feel very merry. 

Pet-Proofing Your Christmas Tree

The most notorious decoration animals are fond of wrecking is, of course, the Christmas tree. Many a cat has climbed up the branches and shattered some crystal ornament, or eaten something on it they definitely shouldn’t have. Here are some tree tips you should follow to avoid disaster:

  • Put your tree in a corner to minimize toppling, and securely anchor it to the ground so it’s hard to knock over.
  • Keep glass or ceramic ornaments off the tree if they’re liable to be knocked over.
  • Watch for falling pine needles: if eaten, pets will get sick.
  • Don’t let your pets drink the tree water: like the needles, it will also not sit well with sensitive digestive tracts.
  • Hanging a lemon-scented air freshener in your tree may deter your cat from climbing it.
  • Avoid using tinsel. Pets are prone to eat it, and it can cause intestinal blockages that in some cases require surgery.
  • Consider an alternative to a Christmas tree for pets that really hate the thing (or really can’t stop themselves from eating it).

Lights and Electric Decorations

Keeping your electric light fanfare safe is important for both human and pet holiday safety. Nothing sparkly or shiny is safe from an inquisitive pet, and you don’t want to use up some of your cat’s nine lives by enabling them to zap themselves! 

  • Keep wires and batteries out of paws’ reach. Eating or clawing at these can cause possible ingestion or burns.
  • Unplug your decorations when you’re not around, and keep your pets away from these holiday hazards.
  • To prevent any accidental electrocutions, exposed indoor or outdoor wires should be taped to the wall or the sides of the house. Any wires extending away from the wall should be wrapped in hard protective plastic to make them less interesting to your cat.

Common Plant Decorations

Many common seasonal plants can be highly toxic to pets. Common plants that are dangerous or poisonous to these pets include:

  • Holly
  • Mistletoe
  • Poinsettias
  • Amaryllis
  • Balsam
  • Pine
  • Cedar

If you have furry friends around the house where you’ve decorated, it’s wise to avoid these festive plants entirely, or use fake foliage.

Holiday Food

To keep your pet safe all through the holidays, it’s important you keep them away from foods that might be an annual treat for you, but a bellyache for them. 

To ensure your pet’s safety during the holidays, keep them away from these foods and more:

  • Sugary sweets, chocolate, and anything sweetened with xylitol. This chemical has been linked to liver failure and death in dogs.
  • Fatty and spicy foods like bacon or stuffing 
  • Turkey bones, fat, and skin should not be fed to your furry friends.
  • Onions and garlic
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Alcoholic drinks, if consumed, can make your pet weak, ill, or comatose, and may possibly resulting in their death from respiratory failure.

During every festive feast, clear the food from your table, counters and serving areas when you are done using them – and make sure the trash gets put where your pet can’t reach it.

Home Safety

To make a cold season cozy, we often light or display things in our house that emit warmth or scent. As lovely and attractive as they are, they can pose a holiday pet safety danger and should be used with caution.

  • Candles – Candles are attractive to pets as well as people. Never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle, and don’t leave lit candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface, and if you leave the room, put the candle out.
  • Potpourri – All forms of potpourri should be kept well out of reach of inquisitive pets. Liquid potpourris pose risks because they contain essential oils and cationic detergents that can severely damage your pet’s mouth, eyes, and skin. Solid potpourris can cause internal damage if eaten.
  • Fireplaces – Pets aren’t always clever enough to always avoid shooting embers or hot coals, and they might knock or roll something into it, causing a fire. If you’re using a fireplace, make sure to use a screen, and don’t leave it unattended. Also consider using an alternative to a fireplace, like faux electric glowing logs.

Having Guests Over

Visitors can upset pets, as can the noise and excitement of holiday parties. Even animals that aren’t normally shy may become nervous in the hubbub that can accompany a holiday gathering. Make sure to keep in mind these holiday pet safety pointers for home safety around the holidays:

  • All pets should have access to a comfortable, quiet place inside if they want to retreat with some toys and a comfortable bed.
  • Provide a safe place for your pet to escape the excitement (such as a kennel, crate, perching place, scratching post shelf or hiding place) if you’re entertaining guests
  • Inform your guests ahead of time that you have pets or if other guests may be bringing pets to your house. Guests with allergies or compromised immune systems need to be aware of any furry friends that may also be present.
  • Watch the exits. Even if your fur kids are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely, especially when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, as a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost.
  • Identification tags and microchips reunite families. Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information.