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Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog

Should You Be Worried About Holiday Pet Safety?

The concept of holiday pet safety can mean something slightly different to everyone. But one thing we can all agree on is that the emergency room pales in comparison to all the warmth, laughter, and coziness at home. 

No matter your pet’s species, age, or personality, the strategies for a safe holiday season are the same, and your friends at the Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic can help you get started.

In Alignment

The holiday season is disruptive. And while it’s fun for us, our pets can be incredibly sensitive to changes. One of the best ways to get in front of holiday-related stress, anxiety, or uncharacteristic behaviors is to strictly maintain your pet’s mealtimes, bathroom breaks, and exercise opportunities.

If you find yourself away from home for longer periods during the day, hire a dog walker, day care, or boarding facility to ensure that your pet’s needs remain a high priority.

The Guest List

If you’re hosting guests for a family meal or party, there are some definite risks to your pet:

  • The numbers of escapes and lost/missing pets increase this time of year. Be sure that your pet cannot run out through the front door as guests arrive, and that they are microchipped and have on a collar with visible ID tags.
  • Crate training is an excellent asset during the holidays, especially when there are loud, boisterous strangers in the house. When a pet has a quiet, comforting, and personal place to retreat to, everyone is much better off. Check on them periodically, supply fresh water, snacks, and lots of praise.
  • Always store your guests’ personal belongings behind closed doors and off lower surfaces. Medications, sugar-free gum, and more can create dangerous outcomes for curious pets.

The Deal With Food

Holiday pet safety absolutely hinges on what your pet puts between their jaws. Sadly, the very same foods that make the holidays so special for people are the ones largely responsible for pet poisonings:

  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Grapes, raisins, or currants
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Xylitol containing baked goods or candy
  • Uncooked meat scraps

Bones, fatty meats, gravies, and raw dough should never be given to pets or left out for easy access. Instead of “treating” an animal to the delights of the holidays, make them a special plate of steamed veggies (sweet potato, green beans, and carrots work well), bite-sized fruits, and small amounts of fully cooked white meat.

Décor and More

Let’s face it, holiday decorations can threaten pet safety. Decorate thoughtfully, and be aware of these inherent risks:

  • Seasonal plants like poinsettia, mistletoe, and holly can be toxic to pets when eaten.
  • The Christmas tree stand can contain dangerously high levels of chemicals, leached from the trunk. Prohibit your pet from lapping up a drink of water from the stand, or opt for an artificial tree this year.
  • Either way, we recommend securing the tree to the back wall or ceiling
  • Keep breakable ornaments off the tree (and away from surfaces accessed by your pet).
  • Say no to tinsel
  • Edible garlands are just asking for trouble.
  • Sweep up fallen needles promptly.
  • Never leave string lights on or near the floor to reduce entanglement; chewing on cords can lead to shock.
  • Live flame candles can burn or singe whiskers and fur.
  • Simmering potpourri or essential oil diffusers can be problematic, especially for cats.
  • Gift wrap, ribbon, string, tape, and other plastic or foils can lead to painful gastrointestinal blockages. Always clean up quickly after gift exchanges.

Holiday Pet Safety for the Win

With a proactive approach to pet safety, you and your best friend can stay warm and happy at home together. Your friends at the Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic wish you the happiest pet-friendly holiday season. If we can assist you further, please contact us.