The holidays are a time for family and friends, and that includes our furry friends! However, with the festivities comes many new health and safety issues for your pet. It's important to avoid certain risks to make sure that the most wonderful time of the year stays that way.
Most people know that dogs can't eat chocolate, and Christmas-time is full of chocolate. Other foods that are common during the holiday season which can be extremely toxic for your cats and dogs include onions, grapes, mince pies, blue cheese, and nuts.
There are many things in baked goods for humans, such as the artificial sweetener Xylitol that are toxic for animals, so it is better to not let them sample any of the sweet things on offer.
When it comes to meat, the safest thing to do is to get your pets their own, animal-specific treats, but if they do get very interested then, as long as the meat is cooked, skinless and unseasoned, it should be fine.
Do not give them more than a tiny little bit as fatty foods are difficult for animals to digest and could cause a variety of problems for your pet if it disagrees with them. Overfeeding fatty foods can cause a nasty condition called pancreatitis, and the amount of fatty foods that could cause a problem varies from animal to animal.
Make sure there are no bones in the meat as they’re a choking hazard, and never give your pet stuffing as it could contain onions, grapes and raisins, which are especially toxic for dogs.
Skip the leftovers and make sure that you dispose of unwanted food quickly and securely.
Many holiday plants are actually poisonous for your animal companions so it's important to know which ones to keep out of your house, or at least out of reach. Mistletoe, holly, poinsettias, and lilies are all toxic to your cats and dogs.
Luckily, you can get fake plants for decoration instead, which you can reuse next year!
3. Christmas Trees
Source: Nastasiya Bileckaya
While real trees make a beautiful addition to your decor, many can cause stomach problems for your pooch or feline if they chew on the branches. The needles can also prick their paws or damage their stomachs if eaten. Make sure to vacuum regularly!
If you have a cat that likes to climb, make sure that the tree is secured – no one will enjoy it falling down! It's also a good idea not to put decorations on the lower branches, where a playful kitty could bat them off, thinking they're a toy. Glass decorations that could fall and smash should especially be placed near the top of the tree, well out of reach of curious paws.
Many animals also enjoy hiding under the tree, so make sure there is some way to get to them if there's an emergency.
Source: Shoo Shoo & Frankengary
Standard decorations including tinsel, ornaments, and lights call all look like toys to your pet and can be choking hazards if you're not careful. Make sure to keep these things out of reach and avoid decorations with small parts. Tape down wires if you can't keep them off the floor completely.
Candles should be kept out of reach and, if you have a working fireplace, you should never leave your pet alone while it's lit.
If you’re inviting lots of people over, this can be a stressful and unfamiliar situation for your pet. The added smells and noises in their territory could make them panic and could even make them try and run away. Make sure your pet has somewhere private and quiet to go to if they get stressed or frightened.
To respect your pet’s privacy, lay down some ‘ground rules’ with your guests about how to interact with them. Children especially might get overexcited at the sight of an animal, but it won’t ruin their night to tell them to leave a nervous animal alone.
People who are ill, allergic, or pregnant need to be notified of your pet in advance so that they can take take necessary precautions. And of, course, if you are going elsewhere for Christmas and taking your furry friend with you, sort out rules and explain your pet's needs before you get there.
6. Make sure they're microchipped
Source: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
You should make sure that your pet is always supervised and that all exits are closed, but if they do manage to escape, a microchip is their best hope of being reunited with you. Make sure that your pet is microchipped and that they’re wearing a tag with your number or address on it!
If your pet does get into difficulties during the holidays, take them straight to the vet. But, with these tips, you are sure to have a magical holiday season!
* * *
At Holidog, we aim to improve the lives of your furry friends. Enjoy your holidays with peace of mind, knowing your pet is in great hands (find a petsitter near you) and spoil them with our monthly subscription box filled with yummy treats and toys (get your free box here). You can count on us!