Holiday Safety The best gift you can give your pets this holiday season is to keep them safe from stress or harm.
Follow these tips to help ensure the holidays are fun and happy for your furry, finned and feathered friends.
Decorations: Keep your pets away from potpourri and holiday plants. Many plants are poisonous, including holly, mistletoe, poinsettias and amaryllis. Snow globes can contain antifreeze, which is highly toxic if ingested. Whether in the garage or in a snow globe, keep all antifreeze products away from your curious cat or tail-wagging dog. If there is an antifreeze spill, keep pets out of the room while you clean up the liquid. Dilute the spot with water and floor cleaner to ensure your pet does not lick the area later. Keep electrical wires and batteries out of pets’ reach. Chewing or biting anything electrical can cause them shock or burns. Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Your cat may try to play with the flame and get painful burns, and your dog’s swinging tail can knock the candle over and cause a fire. Consider using electric candles in your home to keep everyone safe.
Christmas Trees: Anchor the tree to the ceiling or wall so it doesn’t tip over. Keep a small spray bottle full of water near the tree. Correct your tree-climbing cat with a spritz and a loud “NO!” To prevent your cat from climbing on, playing with, or spraying the tree, keep her away from it entirely by laying a surface around the tree that makes being near it unpleasant to her. Try bubble wrap, aluminum foil, or sticky mats designed to keep throw rugs in place–cats dislike walking on strange or sticky surfaces. Spray pinecones with Citronella and pile them around the base of the tree. This looks and smells nice to you, but not to cats–and cats won’t walk on prickly pine cones! (This works with houseplants too.) Scatter orange peels around the tree (cats dislike the scent). Spray hot sauce on the lower branches to keep the cat from chewing on them. Hang non-breakable ornaments near the bottom of the tree. Avoid using tinsel–if ingested, tinsel can twist in the intestines and cause severe damage. Don’t let your pet drink the Christmas tree water. Whether plain or treated with preservative chemicals, tree water can cause severe indigestion, nausea or diarrhea. Regularly sweep up fallen pine needles, as they can puncture holes in a pet’s intestines if ingested.
Holiday Foods: Many holiday foods can be harmful to your pets, causing an upset stomach or even vomiting and diarrhea. Avoid giving your cat or dog fatty or spicy foods, bread dough, fresh herbs, alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, or any kind of sweets, but especially those with chocolate or Xylitol (a sweetener that is safe for humans but extremely toxic for dogs). Cooked poultry bones are very dangerous for pets. Splinters from cooked bones can cause choking, gum damage, and blockage or perforations in the digestive track. Turkey strings, food packaging and similar non-food items are also tempting to pets, but can be dangerous if swallowed. Place garbage in secure trash bins–remember, pets can easily chew through plastic bags–and keep the bins behind closed doors. If you want to share a bit of your holiday menu with your pet, mix a little taste of the turkey or sweet potatoes into his regular food. Ask holiday guests that they not feed your pet even tiny bits of food. Instead, invite them to supply plenty of strokes, chin scratches and belly rubs.
Visitors: Holiday visitors at the door can be exciting for your dog, thus making him more difficult to control. Before guests arrive, help your dog be calmer by exercising both his body and his brain: take him for a brisk 15-minute walk, then provide 15 minutes of basic obedience training. Keep a leash on your dog when visitors are around to help maintain better control of him. Give pets a break from the household hubbub. Lead your dog to his crate in a quiet room, and be sure he has comfy bedding and a few toys to keep him occupied. Allow him to rejoin the festivities later. If your cat dislikes having new people in your home, make sure she has a quiet room to retreat to, equipped with water, food, bedding, and a litter box.
Pet-friendly Presents: Giving safe, fun toys will help your dog or cat stay busy and out of the holiday trimmings. Cheaply made pet toys can be easily destroyed and swallowed, and can pose a choking hazard or intestinal damage. Choose virtually indestructible puzzle toys such as the Buster® Cube for dogs, and KONG® products for dogs and cats. These fun toys reward your pets with treats and keep them well entertained.