Whether you celebrate Christmas, or simply revel in the spirit of the Holiday season, now is the time you’ll be thinking about pulling those storage bins from beneath the basement stairs, and planning holiday menus and family visits. It is a good idea to consider your pets at this time of year as you prepare your home and your schedule for the upcoming celebrations.

Those Pretty, Pretty Plants

Nothing sets the mood of the season quite like the bright greens and reds of plants like poinsettias, holly, mistletoe and a soaring amaryllis. Sadly, all of these plants are toxic to dogs and cats. If ingested they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and lead to more serious problems like cardiac arrest or even death. Your best course of action is to avoid purchasing them, and opt for the artificial variety. But if you just can’t live without them, make sure they are well out of your pets reach at all times. Get familiar with the symptoms of ingestion, and if you suspect that your dog or cat has munched on a leaf or two, contact your veterinarian immediately!

Joyful Deco

Chances are you’ll be decking the halls with some festive sparkle. Avoid artificial snow as it is loaded with toxic chemicals that aren’t just bad for your pet, but for their humans too. Be mindful when using staples and tacks that could be left on the floor for your pet to step on. Christmas trees are the centerpiece of the season, but can be a daunting hazard if not executed with some caution. Make sure breakable ornaments are placed high on the tree, away from the temptation of playful paws. Real fur trees are not toxic to your pets but make sure the water trough is covered to prevent your pet from drinking the water which may contain chemicals used to preserve the tree. Avoid using tinsel as it is highly attractive to pets but can cause serious intestinal distress if ingested and lead to very costly surgery or even death. Electrical wires are an electrocution hazard so make sure they are neatly tucked away, taped down or placed behind heavy furniture.

Oh the Food!

The best commitment you can make for the safety of your pet is to avoid feeding any table food during the holidays, to avoid upset stomachs. Bones in turkey meat may cause choking and puncture digestive tracts. Chocolate, so abundant during the holiday season, is very toxic to both dogs and cats, and hazardous depending on their size and the amount consumed. It can cause extreme hyperactivity, seizures and even death. You don’t have to eliminate these delectable delights, just keep them far away from your pet. DO NOT hang them on your tree! If you feel inclined to give your pet something special on Christmas day, try feeding them a little more of their regular food and/or treats, or give them a wet version of their regular dry food for a little excitement.

The Coming, The Going, The Hustle Bustle

Chances are there will be some extra traffic through your home during the holidays. The coming and going of visitors means the front door will be opening and closing more often, leaving more opportunity for your pet to dart out. Be mindful of this possibility, and make sure your pet is wearing the correct identification tags in the event that they slip out. Be proactive before that doorbell rings, and perhaps barricade your pets until everyone has arrived. Not only that, but the general air of excitement can make some dogs and cats anxious and stressed, as their daily routine is temporarily disrupted. Designating a room for them to have refuge should the visitors start to become overwhelming is a great idea to keep them comfortable. There may be more road trips to see relatives and friends during this season. Don’t forget your pets! Instead of leaving them home alone for extended periods of time, ask your hosts if they can accompany you. Respect them if the answer is no, and consider services like boarding homes or even pet visits like those offered by Woof Walking & Co., to give your pet a much needed break and some TLC!

The season is meant for rejoicing, not for worrying. Planning ahead and knowing what to look for while planning this season means you can feel confident that your pets’ well-being has been taken care of, and you can enjoy your holidays together!!

Author: Jill Kennedy