Carol KuzdekThe holidays are a time to gather with family and friends and celebrate. But did you know the holidays pose a number of threats to your pets? As you enjoy the holiday season this year, keep your pets safe by following these simple guidelines.
Decorations and Your Pets
Holiday decorations can be especially hazardous to pets. Dogs and cats are both allergic to holly, mistletoe, poinsettia and lilies, so make sure to keep these plants well out of reach of pets. Tinsel, ribbons and wrapping paper are shiny, attractive toys to cats, but can cause serious intestinal blockages if ingested.
Lighted candles and menorahs can be easily knocked over by wagging tails and rambunctious pets, so place these on high tables or mantels where pets can’t reach them. Dogs and cats also tend to chew on electrical cords for lights and displays, putting them at risk for dangerous shocks or electrocution. Make sure these cords are kept away from pets, or taped securely to a wall or floor.
Dried pine needles from wreaths or Christmas trees can actually puncture your pet’s stomach, so sweep up any dropped needles daily, and consider putting a fence or other barrier in place to keep your dog away. If you don’t put up a barrier, anchor the tree well so that it’s not easily knocked over by your pets. Keep tree ornaments that might be tempting to your dog and cat off the lower branches, and avoid any edible ornaments such as cranberry or popcorn strings that might cause your pet to climb the tree and possibly knock it over. And a tree skirt covering the water bowl at the base of the tree is an easy way to keep your pet from getting sick after drinking stagnant tree water.
Careful With the Leftovers
Your guests at the holidays may not know that certain foods can be very hazardous to your pet. Turkey or ham bones may seem like a nice treat for Fido, but they splinter when chewed and can cause serious damage to your dog’s intestinal tract. Raisins, grapes and chocolate are especially poisonous to dogs, and can cause death in very small amounts, so keep any cookies, candies or breads containing them away from pets. Onions, garlic and avocados are also mildly poisonous to pets, so don’t add any dips, gravy or stuffing to their meals without checking the ingredients first.
Holiday Guests and Your Pets
The holidays are often when families and friends gather, and a little planning can help make your pet safer around your house guests.
During parties, not all of your guests may be pet-friendly, and you may consider keeping your pets crated or in a separate room, away from the festivities, with plenty of toys and water to keep them occupied. Pets are easily agitated by loud music and noises like New Year’s Eve poppers, so often they are more content in a quieter area.
Make sure to keep all foods and alcoholic beverages up and away from your pet while you’re busy with your guests, and sweep up any confetti or streamers after they leave. Using food and garbage containers with lids, and cleaning up leftovers right away, are safe precautions. And if you have people visiting from out of town, ask they keep any medications zipped up and out of reach of curious pets.
Now that you’ve learned all that you need to know about holiday pet safety, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season with your family, including your furry four-legged family members.
Carol Kuzdek is the owner and founder of Whole Pets Inc., which offers all-natural pet food and supplies for cats, dogs and small animals. She has turned a lifelong love of animals into a successful retail and online business. Carol first had the idea of starting Whole Pets in 1996 while caring for her 11-year-old Golden Retriever who had developed cancer.