Holiday Pet Safety Should Be a Top Priority

If you’re a pet owner, then animal companionship is likely already an important part of your life all year-round. That doesn’t change simply because the holidays are upon us. But in your rush to complete preparations, decorations, and festive planning, don’t forget to take the necessary precautions to avoid an unnecessary trip to the animal hospital in the middle of your celebrations.

Remember, many different holiday foods and decorations are dangerous for our furry friends. Read on for some holiday pet safety tips, and make sure your home and pets stay happy, healthy and ready to enjoy the holiday season.

holiday pet safety tips

Decorations for Pets to Avoid or Be Very Careful With

The tree, the holly wreath, the mistletoe, the poinsettia, strings of electric lights—all of these are potential hazards for your pets if not dealt with properly. In some cases, a few of these items may be better left out of the festivities altogether.

The Tree:

Possibly the most emblematic of all holiday decorations, the Christmas tree offers most of us an opportunity to bring a bit of the outdoors inside for the holidays. But it can also be a danger to your pets; here’s how to avoid unwanted problems from arising:

  • Make sure to anchor your tree to either the wall or the ceiling so that it cannot be tipped over. Breaking glass ornaments are hazardous in many ways.
  • Look for a non-toxic way to feed the tree so that when your pet drinks out of the tree’s water basin, they do not get sick. Also, make sure to change the water on a daily basis to keep it from becoming a stagnant bacteria-rich mini-pond.
  • Make sure that all electrical cables leading to the tree are covered or secured where they cannot be chewed on. The anxiety of multiple guests arriving and routines being upset can bring out the chewer in the most well behaved pet.
  • Ditch the tinsel, especially if you have cats. Tinsel is an environmental liability during the holiday, and once it’s over. Highly reflective strips of unrecyclable plastic are irresistible chew-things for some pets and can cause intestinal upset and even blockages.

Other Greenery: The Sprig of Holly, the Mistletoe, the Poinsettia

Beyond the tree, decorating the home with holly sprigs, mistletoe and potted poinsettias is a holiday tradition for many of us. Unfortunately, all three of these plants are toxic, in some way, to household pets.

Holly can cause diarrhea and vomiting if eaten; mistletoe can cause heart and stomach problems if ingested; and poinsettias are poisonous to cats. Consider a pet-friendly bouquet of seasonal flowers and greenery instead.

Holiday Foods Are Not Intended to Be Eaten by Pets

During the holidays, it can be tempting to let pets have a little “people food” from the table or in their bowl. Never mind the setback this may represent to their training (they don’t know it’s the holidays or a “one time” thing after all), many holiday foods can be downright dangerous for our pets to eat.

The Sweets

Sweets for pets are a serious no-no. Chocolate and xylitol (an artificial sweetener) can cause serious stomach, heart, and in some cases neurological problems in pets. Most cats won’t eat chocolate unless coaxed, but we all know what dogs will with anything mildly resembling food.

The Drinks

Like with sweets, it may be tempting to let your dog or cat have a couple sips of your holiday beer, cocktail, or glass of wine. That, and making sure that spills and left-behind half-finished drinks are cleaned up before a pet can get at them can be challenging when you’re entertaining friends and family. But, keep in mind that alcohol can have a profoundly stronger effect on your pet than it does on you. Pets can become weak, drowsy, and even go into a coma and die from drinking too much.

Ringing in the New Year

It is becoming increasingly popular to save leftover fireworks from Independence Day for the end of the year. If your pets are nervous on The Fourth from all of the noise, they may be just as skittish on New Year’s Eve. Take the necessary steps to make sure they stay safe and comfortable no matter what gets set off with the New Year.

Make Pet Safety a Priority This Year

Keeping your pets safe from the foods and decorations associated with the end of the year holiday season is as simple as taking a few early precautions. No matter how much this may seem like an additional chore during the season, it’s cheaper, easier, and considerably more fun than a trip to the vet.

Author: Giano Panzarella