Monday, 7 December 2020

Holiday hazards for your pet: Safety tips to keep pets safe during Christmas season

Toxic food, dangerous decorations, and problematic parties: How to keep your pet safe from dangerous holiday hazards

Holiday hazards for your pet: Safety tips to keep pets safe during Christmas season


I enjoy holiday food and festivities! As much as I know Hazel loves her advent calendar and opening her stocking on Christmas morning, I'm well aware that including her in some holiday traditions has me barking up the wrong Christmas tree. The holidays can be loud and scary for a pet. It can be sensory overload, and at times they can feel threatened. Your pet is a valued member of the family, and ensuring they are safe and comfortable during this festive season is important. The holidays pose many risks for your pet- health risks as well as a risk of heightened anxiety. Christmas dangers are everywhere, so it's important to keep your pet safe. I've put together a comprehensive list of holiday hazards and tips about how to keep your pet safe during the Christmas season. 


Holiday hazards for your pet: Safety tips to keep pets safe during Christmas season


Dangerous décor


Avoid loud, obnoxious décor

I’m a big fan of those Christmas decorations that look like stuffed animals and when you press a button, they play Christmas music and dance around. Unfortunately, my dog is afraid of them. Loud and obnoxious holiday decorations can scare your pets, so dial down your décor.


Use flameless candles

Curious cats may think a flame is an enticing new play toy. Keep them safe by using flameless candles so they don't get burned.


Holiday plants

Common holiday plants like holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia are beautiful but if ingested by your pet they can cause upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea. Lilies are extremely toxic to cats and if your cat ingests even a small amount you should seek veterinary attention. 


Anchor Christmas tree

A fallen Christmas tree and a guilty pet is not just a meme- it’s a holiday reality. But it's not always funny and cute. Trees can fall on pets and broken ornaments can be hazardous. Secure your tree in a tree stand to avoid saying TIMBER!


Use fake tree

To a pet, your tree might be a treat. Some pets, cats especially, chew and eat Christmas trees. That can cause an upset stomach. If your pet likes to chomp on plants, consider using a fake Christmas tree. 


Keep decorations higher up on the tree 

If the tree seems like a treat to your pet, then the ornaments can seem like a toy. Place ornaments higher up on the tree, especially breakable or important ornaments. 


Don’t use tinsel

I hate tinsel because it’s not environmentally friendly, but cats love tinsel. Unfortunately, they can get sick when they ingest it. It can also cause the potential for a foreign body.


No popcorn garlands or edible decorations

Another thing that entices your pets is edible holiday decorations, like popcorn garland. Using edible décor is just asking for a problem. You can’t expect a pet not to eat food they consider ‘laying around.’ So, skip the festive food.


Christmas tree water is not a holiday beverage

Pets may be interested in drinking the water in the Christmas tree stand. The water is dirty, and if you use any products to keep the tree fresh the water can be a toxin ingestion risk. Change the water frequently or create a barricade so your pet can’t get to the tree. 


Watch your wiring

Barricading your tree can also help keep your pets away from tree light wiring. Some pets like to chew wires, which can cause electrical shock. Christmas should be shimmery- not sizzling. 


Gift wrapping hazards

Ribbon and bows are pretty on the outside, but they aren’t so pretty on the inside- the inside of your pet’s intestines, that is. If ingested, Christmas wrapping can be a foreign body hazard. Keep the gifts out of reach unless you want your pet to have gastric-upset.


Holiday hazards for your pet: Safety tips to keep pets safe during Christmas season


Food and festivities


Keep Christmas chocolate away from canines

Keep chocolate far away from your pets- especially dark chocolate. Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs. If your dog ingests chocolate you should call your veterinarian immediately. 


Alcohol is a NO

Alcohol and pets don’t mix, and it can make them very sick. So, cheers each other- not your companion animals. 


Don't share table scraps and human food

I’m guilty of feeding my dog people food. I can’t resist those big, brown, pleading eyes. But everything in moderation- too much people food can make your pet sick and lead to health complications, like pancreatitis.


Beware of bones

Cooking a holiday dinner? Keep the bones away from your pets. Cooked or uncooked, bones are a huge foreign body risk. They can also cause gastric upset and broken teeth. Hold off on the ham bone for your dog- it’s dangerous.


Know your toxic foods 

Onions, garlic, raisins, grapes, coffee- many festive foods are highly toxic to your pet. Become familiar with foods that are toxic to your pet and keep those foods out of reach. 


Tell guests not to feed the animals

With so many toxic foods out there, you can’t rely on your guest’s knowledge of what not to feed your pet. Ask your guests not to give in to puppy dog eyes and feed your pet while they are visiting your home. 


Inform guests of your pet’s allergies

Another important thing to inform your guest of is any food allergies your pet has. If your pet has an allergic reaction over the holidays it may be more difficult or costly to obtain veterinary care. Prevent expensive emergency visits by communicating these things to your guests. 


Holiday costumes are not always a good idea

Most pets just 'tolerate' costumes. While your Christmas outfit is an exciting holiday tradition, your pet may not feel the same way. If you choose not to skip holiday pet costumes, make sure the costume fits, doesn't constrict the pet or prevent their mobility, and doesn't have anything hanging off of it the pet can chew.


Holiday hazards for your pet: Safety tips to keep pets safe during Christmas season


Celebrate safely


Inform party guests about your pets and how to behave with them

If your pet has any anxiety, health issues, aggression, or quirks you should inform your guests. It’s especially important to tell guests if you have any training specific requests. Maybe you want your dog to sit before receiving a treat. You don’t want to reverse all the training you’ve worked on.


Be mindful of opening and closing doors

Guests coming in and out can create perfect opportunities for pets to escape. Be mindful of the door opening and closing and ask your guests to do the same. You can put a sign on the door advising your guests to be careful of your escape-risk pet.


Keep pets away from intoxicated people

Drunk people are all fun and games until they hurt your pet. It could be an accident or something that was intended to be a joke, but your pets shouldn’t suffer because your drunk guests can’t control themselves. 


Make sure kids behave when interacting with pets

Kids can also harm your pet without realizing it. Some kids have never been taught safe handling of pets. As a result, your pet can end up hurting a child in self-defense or by accident. To keep everyone safe, tell the children to stay away from your pets.


Keep the noise down or keep pets isolated

When things get loud, pets get anxious. Either keep the volume down or keep your pets segregated from the party. 


Make sure dogs get bathroom breaks

It’s easy to get lost in the moment when you’re celebrating the holidays. Don’t forget that your dog needs bathroom breaks. If you put your dog outside for a bathroom break don't forget about her- it's cold out there! 


Try to maintain your pet’s routine as much as possible 

Pets thrive on routine- especially dogs. The holidays can be a busy time and interrupt that routine. Try your best to stick to the routine your dog is familiar with. It's comforting for them. 


Holiday hazards for your pet: Safety tips to keep pets safe during Christmas season


Give your pet the perfect gift


Select edible gifts from trusted countries and companies

During the holiday season stores are flooded with pet Christmas gifts. Just because a store is selling it doesn’t mean that the product is good. A lot of those generic products are of poor quality or make in countries with more relaxed regulations for pet treats. Only buy treats made by trusted pet food companies that you are familiar with.


Choose edible gifts with healthy ingredients

It’s also a good idea to pick treats with healthy ingredients. Pets get more treats than usual on special occasions, so cut down on the calories while you spoil your furry companion.


Pick plastic toys that are BPA free

Many dog toys are made of plastic. Make sure that the plastic toys are safe and the material used is BPA free. 


Select a toy for your pet’s chewing style

Not all toys are made equal- when it comes to chewing, that is. If your dog is a tough chewer make sure you select a toy that is appropriate. Make sure the size and material correspond with your dog’s chewing style. 


Toys that stimulate the mind are the most fun

Elevate your pet’s toy game. Puzzle games and treat balls provide mental stimulation. Give your pet the gift of play. 


Make sure the toy is appropriate for a growing pet

If your pet is a puppy or kitten make sure you buy specific toys geared toward their life stage. Some growing pet toys are made with softer, gentler materials and are designed for teething.


Do not give a pet as a gift

As a general rule, you should not give a living thing as a gift- unless it's a plant. A pet is a lifetime of responsibility. Some people purchase a pet as a holiday gift without realizing that a pet is not a gift- it's a dependent. Some people give a pet as a gift to someone who didn't want one. Many of these pets end up in animal shelters when the holidays are over. Don’t give a pet as a gift unless you are willing to make a lifetime commitment. 


Size matters when it comes to toys

A large toy may be too big for a small pet. A toy that is too small for your pet may be a choking or foreign body hazard. Choose your pet’s toy wisely. Size matters!


Pets don’t like to share

Most pets don’t like to share toys. Giving two dogs one toy can start a dog fight- and no one likes fighting over the holidays. Splurge a little and give each pet their own toy for Christmas. 


Holiday hazards for your pet: Safety tips to keep pets safe during Christmas season


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