The turkey is in the oven, the halls are decked and the gifts are wrapped, but do you know where the cat is? With all the excitement of the holidays, sometimes we can lose track of our four-legged family members, only to find the cats chewing on the décor or the dog eating through the kitchen garbage after a family feast. Follow the holiday pet safety tips from our Veterinarians below all season long.
Dos and Don'ts of Décor:
- Make sure to keep decorations and ornaments up and out of reach of curious pets.
- Instead of glass ornaments, look for non-breakable options (such as metal or plastic), since pieces of broken glass ornaments can be easily swallowed or stepped on.
- Keep an eye out for any loose confetti or tinsel that might be in reach of pets, especially cats. These little eye-catching pieces of plastic can lead to blockage in the digestive track, if swallowed.
- Poinsettias aren't deadly to pets, but if eaten they can cause pets to vomit and have digestive upset, so keep them away from animals.
- Candles can set the celebratory mood and they can become a fire hazard with an unsupervised pet moving around. A bump of a table or the pulling of a tablecloth can lead to a candle tipping over. Don't leave any lit candles unsupervised and keep them in sturdy holders.
- If you put up a Christmas tree, either real or artificial, make sure it's properly secured. Curious cats may like to climb on it and larger dogs can easily knock them over.
- Glowing lights or moving décor are sometimes too good to pass up for some pets. Make sure to unplug or turn off any decorations to prevent harm and possible fire hazards when you leave the house or go to bed at night.
- Dogs and cats can get be startled by holiday noise makers and poppers. If you have noisemakers at your celebration, set your pet up with their own quite space, away from the party.
Food Faux Pas:
- While humans relish in the chocolate goodies of the season, this sweet treat is dangerous to pets. Keep chocolate candy sealed and out of reach, and if you think your pet may have ingested chocolate, call your veterinarian.
- A holiday turkey can be a major stomach concern to our four-legged friends. The skin on the turkey is soaked in oils, seasonings, and fats, which may lead to stomach pain and even pancreatitis. Also be sure to keep your kitchen garbage out of reach or covered, since the turkey bones can be a particularly dangerous choking and digestive hazard if pets get their paws on them.
- Advise your dinner and party guests to not feed your dog any scraps to avoid digestive upset. If your dog tends to beg near the table at mealtime, put your dog in a quiet room during the feast to avoid temptation.
- Think being around lots of people makes you stressed? Just imagine how your pet feels! Make sure to keep an eye on your pets behavior for any signs of anxiety. Zylkene, a behavioral supplement, can be started a few days before the holidays to help pets cope once the festivities (and all the hustle and bustle that comes with it!) arrive. Ask for Zylkene by name at your local veterinary clinic or online at Chewy.com or Healthy Pets.
- During family gatherings or large parties, keep a cozy space secluded so your pet has a place to go and relax during all the excitement at a holiday party.
- If you are concerned with your dog or cat getting loose as your front door opens and closes during holiday gatherings, consider keeping your pet in a secure place in your home, with toys and fresh water. Playing calming music in this room may help to soothe them or distract them from the noises in the rest of the house.
- Loading up the car to head to Grandma's house for the holidays? Buckle up you and your pets. Loose pets in a car can be a danger, both as a driving distraction and as a projectile (if there were to be an accident). Secure pets as you would the rest of your family – there are special harnesses and car crates for pets – to keep everyone safe.
- Keep a leash handy in the car, not packed away. In the event your car breaks down in transit, you may need to exit your vehicle quickly with your family and pet. Even in a minor fender bender, pets can escape when a frazzled owner steps out of the car to assess the damage.
- If you are flying with your pet, try to limit how long your flight time is, avoiding connecting flights to prevent any delays and risk of the airline misplacing your very important cargo.
- Make sure to pack food, plus water and bowls.
- Bring along your dog's favorite toys so your dog has something from home to keep him occupied when visiting a new house.
Please note: If your pet's health status or behavior changes suddenly in any way, call your veterinarian. He or she can help rule out any underlying medical issues as well as make additional recommendations, beyond these general holiday pet safety tips.