The holiday season is upon us, and many pet parents plan to include their furry companions in the festivities. As you gear up for the holidays, it is important to try to keep your pet's eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. Also, please be sure to steer pets clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations.
Be Careful with Seasonal Plants and Decorations
- Oh, Christmas Tree: Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria, and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.
- Avoid Mistletoe & Holly and poinsettias: Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems and poinsettias can be deadly. And many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.
- Tinsel-less Town: Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching "toy" that's easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It's best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.
- That Holiday Glow: Don't leave lighted 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!
- Wired Up: Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth and digestive tract.
Avoid Holiday Food Dangers
- Skip the Sweets:By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising pet will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.
- Leave the Leftovers: Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won't lead to costly medical bills.
- Careful with Cocktails: If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.
- Selecting Special Treats: Looking to stuff your pet's stockings? Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible. Long, stringy things are a feline's dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that's too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer.
Plan a Pet-Safe Holiday Gathering
- House Rules: If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you're busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.
- Put the Meds Away: Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.
- A Room of Their Own: Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.
- New Year's Noise: As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat's intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. And remember that many pets are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.
You should never offer turkey, chicken, or other real bones to your pet no matter how hard they beg. These bones can splinter easily and injure the soft tissues of the mouth or cause serious internal damage if swallowed. If your pet loves bones, purchase a safe bone-shaped treat from your local pet store for them to chew on after dinner.
Your dog or cat will probably be curious when they smell something yummy cooking. Keep an eye on hot containers so your pet doesn’t tip them over and get burned or eat something that could be toxic.
Have a happy Hanukkah by keeping your pet safe from these potentially harmful objects.
Keep a close eye on your pet around the Menorah when it’s lit. You might even want to put your pet safely in another room when you light the candles. You don't want them rubbing against the Menorah and getting burned or knocking it over and starting a fire.
Playing with a dreidel is a fun tradition, but small dreidels can be a choking hazard for pets. Make sure you put them away safely when the game is over.
From festive decorations to joyous parties, there’s a lot to enjoy during Christmas, but there’s also a lot of ways your pet can get hurt.
No kisses under the mistletoe with your pet, please! Mistletoe and other popular holiday plants, such as Christmas Roses, poinsettias, holly, and lilies, are toxic to dogs and cats. It’s safest to deck the halls with artificial silk or plastic plants.
Presents look festive under the tree, but ribbons, bows, and wrapping paper can spell trouble for your pet. If your pet gets at them, they could choke on or swallow them, which can cause internal damage or an intestinal blockage. Remember that the stuff packed inside those gifts can be harmful too. For instance, pets can choke on Styrofoam peanuts or shredded packing paper.