Pet Parent’s Guide for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is here! If you’re a pet parent, now is a good time to take a moment and consider ways to make your home safe for the holidays. Below is your holiday pet safety guide to help keep your furry loved ones happy and healthy while enjoying holiday traditions. Woman Holding Dog

Christmas Trees

One of the most common holiday concerns among pet parents is how to get Christmas trees and pets to coexist. Anyone with a curious pet knows that they often see Christmas trees and ornaments as wonderful, shiny new toys. To prevent a recipe for disaster, pet parents can take a few basic precautions. Consider placing your Christmas tree in a corner, away from shelves, furniture or cat trees that your pets may use as a springboard to jump onto your tree or attack ornaments. Many families with pets or small children use fishing line to anchor the tree to the walls and ceiling so that it cannot be accidentally tipped over. If possible, it is best to put the tree in a room that can be blocked off by a door or baby gate when you are not home to supervise curious pets. If not, a wide skirt of aluminum foil around the base of the tree will often deter dogs and cats from approaching the tree. Keeping the tree water covered is also important, as the chemicals in the bowl can make your pet sick if they ingest it.

Lights, Ornaments, and other Decorations

Teething puppies or kittens are especially attracted to tree branches, ornaments, and electric light wires for chewing. To prevent any mishaps, you can spray the branches and wires with a bitter spray or repellent spray from your local Kahoots. Present ribbons and other decorations should also be treated with a spray to keep small pets from gnawing on or ingesting them.
When decorating the tree, make sure you don’t tease your dog or cat with ornaments, which encourages them to think of the ornaments as toys. Any breakable or dangerous ornaments should be placed somewhere out of your pet’s reach. Switching out glass ornaments for durable plastic ones can help avoid ruined décor and glass cuts or shards in paw pads. Tinsel is very attractive to cats and rabbits, and can cause serious gastric complications if eaten.
Holiday candles are also attractive to pets who do not understand that these are dangerous items. Never leave candles burning unattended as they can be a major fire hazard, especially in a home with curious pets.

Holiday Plants

Kitten in Santa HatAnother holiday decoration that can be dangerous to pets is live plants. Christmas plants like mistletoe, poinsettia, holly, and amaryllis all have the potential to cause vomiting and even cardiovascular failure if ingested by pets. Dogs and cats have a natural desire to eat live plants for fiber, so any decorative plants should be kept well out of your pet’s reach.

Holiday Feasts

The holidays are filled with festive food and drinks, which could make their way into your pet’s reach if not monitored carefully. Guests may want to share a little roast meat or bone with a dog or cat who begs at the table, but this should be actively discouraged. Fatty meat trimmings can cause gastric upset or even acute pancreatitis in some dogs, and cooked bones easily splinter into sharp pieces that can damage the intestine. Grapes, raisins, chocolate, and artificial sweeteners can all be dangerous and potentially deadly for pets who pick them up. Try to monitor the location of your pet during holiday parties or baking that involves dangerous ingredients to avoid accidental food poisoning. Watching where you set your drink down around pets is also important. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause gastric upset, coma, and seizures in dogs or cats.

Changes in Routine

New decorations, smells, noise, and company are all potential stress inducers for pets that can bring out stress-related behaviors like marking, scratching, growling, or anxiety. Try to prepare your pet by introducing them slowly to new and potentially scary decorations and company. Making sure that your pet’s daily routine of feeding and potty breaks is not interrupted can go a long way toward making them feel that their place in the house and expectations aren’t changing.
Always provide your pet with a safe, quiet place with a familiar smell when they are overstimulated or stressed. Make them a den space or crate with fresh water and a favorite toy where company won’t bother them, so they can regulate their stress during the holidays.

We want to share the love with our four-legged family members during this celebration season, and with a little consideration and preparation, the holidays can be fun and safe for our fur kids too!

By Julia Tunnell, Kahooligan at Kahoots East Escondido

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