The holidays are a magical time of year for people and pets. But, the celebrations, food, and decor that bring people holiday cheer can harm your pet if you don’t take proper precautions. Consider your pet’s safety as you prepare for the holidays—check out this list compiled by our Fremont Animal Hospital team and learn the do’s and don’ts for a pet-safe holiday season.
DO secure your tree to avoid injury to your pet
Climbing cats and curious dogs can easily knock over a Christmas tree that isn’t secured properly. Ensure the tree base is sturdy, and consider securing your tree to the wall or ceiling to prevent it from falling and possibly injuring your pet. If your pet is overly fixated on the tree, you may need to block their access with a pet gate or fence. This will also prevent your pet from drinking the tree water, which may contain preservative chemicals or fertilizers that can make them sick.
DON’T hang ornaments within your pet’s reach
Who can blame a pet for mistaking an ornament for a toy? Many look like balls or stuffed toys, but a glass ornament knocked off the tree can break and cut your pet or, if ingested, become an obstruction that requires surgical removal. Hang your delicate glass ornaments out of your pet’s reach.
DO hide your pet’s presents
Don’t put a gift-wrapped bone or catnip for your dog or cat under the tree with the rest of the presents. Your pet will smell those tasty treats, and will be unable to resist the temptation to dig in. And, once your pet has unwrapped one present, protecting the rest will be impossible. Instead, keep pets’ gifts in a secure, inaccessible location until it’s time for the grand opening.
DON’T let your pet chew cords
Stringing up holiday lights can be a lot of fun, but you do need to worry about the safety of the electrical cords—this is one of the most important holiday tips for pets, because chewed cords can lead to electric shocks or burns. To keep your chew-happy pet from getting to light cords, mount the cords higher up the wall out of your pets’ way, cover them with a heavy-duty cover, or swap out your plug-ins for battery-operated lights. Battery packs can easily be stuffed into tree branches, stockings, or other protected areas.
DO consider pet-friendly flameless candles
Candles can set the celebratory mood, but can be a fire hazard around an unsupervised pet, who may bump a table or pull at a tablecloth, tipping over the candle, and burning the pet or causing a fire. Battery-operated candles can prevent this potential catastrophe. The newest options look shockingly like real flames and some come scented.
DON’T decorate with plants toxic to pets
Many classic holiday plants, including poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe, can potentially harm pets. Before you bring living plants into your home for the holiday season, ensure the plant is pet-safe with a quick Google search, or by checking out the ASPCA’s toxic plant list. Be aware of the potential risks beforehand, rather than from an emergency veterinarian. Consider skipping toxic plants altogether, rather than worrying about keeping pets away from your holiday decor.
DO skip the tinsel to keep your pet safe
Tinsel is attractive, but can be incredibly dangerous for cats or dogs, who can be tempted to eat the tinsel. Ingested tinsel can wreak havoc on your pet’s digestive system and your pet will likely need life-saving veterinary care.
DON’T share food with your pet
Your pet doesn’t have the foresight to realize that eating non-pet-safe foods will be followed by serious consequences (i.e., a severe stomach ache—or worse). However, you know that your pet is going to eat any scrap of food they find—for example, food left unattended on a low table, tossed by a guest who couldn’t resist their sad eyes, while dumpster diving—and it’s your responsibility to ensure that all food is kept safely out of your pet’s reach.
Also, ensure any guests are cognizant of pet holiday hazards, and ask them to keep coats and purses, which often contain treats like chocolate, raisins, or xylitol-containing gum, out of pets’ reach, or designate a room where everyone can store their jackets, bags, and gifts behind a closed door. Put a holiday decorative sign on the door that reminds everyone to keep the door shut. Remind family members and holiday guests not to share any food with your pet, but especially the following, which are toxic to pets:
- Onions, garlic, and chives
- Grapes and raisins
- Sugar-free treats containing xylitol
- Raw yeast dough
- Macadamia nuts
- Alcoholic drinks
- Caffeinated drinks
We do not want your holidays spoiled by an emergency veterinary visit, and following these do’s and don’ts can reduce the likelihood of a pet emergency. Of course, accidents can happen, no matter how much you prepare. Should your pet find trouble and require veterinary care, contact Fremont Animal Hospital for immediate advice and possible treatment.
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