The holiday season is a time for fun, food, decorations, and get-togethers. It’s also a time where there are so very many things to arrange, remember and buy that even the most responsible pet parent can become weary and inadvertently overlook a situation that may compromise holiday safety for their beloved pets.
We’ve created a short to-do and not-to-do checklist that will safeguard your dog or cat from the most common hazards that could potentially turn a wonderful gathering into a freaked-out drive to the nearest pet ER.
Important note – it’s a good idea to have your emergency vet’s phone number easily accessible – just in case.
♪ O Christmas tree, O Christmas Tree ♪ ~ Make It Safe!
- Place your tree in a corner. That makes it less accessible to paws and noses.
- Secure your tree by screwing a hook into the wall or ceiling. Run string or fishing line around the trunk and fasten it to the hook to anchor the tree in place.
- To avoid your four-legged jumping up on the tree:
- place aluminum foil over the skirt.
- fill a plastic drink bottle with knick-knacks or anything else that makes noise to discourage interest in the branches.
- Sprinkle the tree skirt and lower branches with common ground white pepper or spray them with a nontoxic taste deterrent.
- Hang tinsel high up or not at all. Tinsel can block a pet’s intestine which will most likely result in surgery!
- By the way, keep in mind that streamers, confetti, and noisemakers at New Year’s gatherings can be tempting and dangerous for your pets.
- Keep lights off the lower branches. Curious Fido might bite through a cord and get shocked or worse.
- Conceal cables for holiday lights well, for the sake of pets and children. Special cable covers infused with citronella can be used to deter chewing. It may be helpful to tape cables to the wall, both inside and out. Turn off decorations when not at home.
- Keep all types of ornaments off the lower branches. Shards from breakable decorations can slice a pet paw or intestine, and edible ornaments are not only unhealthy for your pet but will encourage jumping up on the tree. Potentially “timber!!!!”
- Sweep up pine needles. They can actually puncture your pet’s intestines!
- Cover the water at the base of the tree well. Stagnant water harbors bacteria that can sicken your pet quickly.
♪ Deck the Halls ♪ ~ Decorating Your House
- NEVER leave lighted candles unattended. Consider using flameless candles instead. Scented candles can encourage your pet to check out what’s burning!
- If you choose to use candles, be sure they are secure on high shelves or mantles. Use your fireplace screen at all times!
- Keep your pet away when wrapping gifts. Paper, string, and plastic can cause intestinal blockages. Of course, scissors don’t belong on low tables or floors – for your dog, cat, or child’s sake.
- When unwrapping gifts, place papers, ribbons, and bows somewhere Rover can’t access. Don’t forget to take out the trash!
- Avoid holiday plant decorations – they are poison for your pets! Yes, plants like mistletoe and holly, even poinsettias, lilies and daffodils. Learn more here!
♪ Marshmallows for Toasting ♪ ~ Food, Delicious Food!
- Keep pets away from ALL sweets! Check out this list of foods that are toxic for pets.
- Avoid offering your furry friend leftovers. While a bit of turkey meat (from the middle of the bird) might be a healthy treat, the seasonings can be downright toxic for your pet. NEVER give your dog turkey bones. Instead, purchase strong bones for chewing that don’t splinter from your local pet store or butcher.
- Place ALL alcohol and other drinks out of your pet’s path. The drinks are toxic. Worse yet, toppled and broken glasses are a danger for all!
♪ Twelve Days of Christmas ♪ ~ Gifts and Treats
- Doggie – choose indigestible chew toys, Kongs created to stuff with healthy foods, or easy to digest chew treats. Living Meal for Dogs or Flora Dog Chews are always appreciated as healthy stocking stuffers!
- Kittie – a cat dancer like Da Bird, a new ball that’s too big to swallow, or a stuffed catnip toy. Flora Cat or Living Meal for Cats are perfect presents to support health in the new year!
♪ Silent Night ♪ ~ and Holiday Safety Was Had by All~
- If your pet enjoys extra human attention, be sure to inform your guests that petting or playing is appreciated. Just say NO to food handouts!
- It’s a great idea to appoint a responsible and loving family member to be the designated pet watcher who will:
- Oversee interactions if unexpected pets arrive.
- Manage the comfort level of less than pet-friendly guests.
- Monitor doors as guests come and go to avoid the misery of hunting for an escaped pet.
- Make sure that pets don’t steal food when no one seems to be looking.
- Be sure that all medications are safely put away. Don’t allow your pet’s health to pay for someone’s hangover!
- Be sure your dog or cat has a room of their own with fresh water and a warm place to snuggle in while festivities abound in the rest of the house~ Especially as the guests get a bit tipsy!
Special thanks to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Healthy Pets with Mercola, the American Animal Hospital Association, and Pet MD for their excellent posts on holiday safety. This blog merged the high points of their suggestions.
And from all of us here at Vital Planet, enjoy your celebrations along with the love of family, friends, and four-leggeds – SAFELY throughout this holiday~