Thanksgiving for most people marks the start of the holiday season. For pet owners it means the start of the season when extra caution is required when it comes to keeping your furry friends safe and healthy.
Most families have a story or two about a dog who ate something they shouldn’t — an entire birthday cake or whole batch of Christmas cookies — not to mention that one relative who refuses to listen when you tell them your dog does not in fact need a bite of your pumpkin pie. Add in the craziness that comes with having company and there are plenty of opportunities for your pets to snag some human food. Your best option is to keep food and pets separated as best as possible so Fido can’t sneak any turkey bones out of the trash while you’re busy supervising the kids’ pie portions.
Even if your pets are normally well behaved, the extra bodies, noise and confusion that come with hosting any party may be a little much for them after a while. Prevent your pet from seeking refuge by slipping out the door and give them a quiet and secure place away from all the noise and commotion (and frequently opened front door) for them to relax.
Decorations come with their own list of potential problems. Along with all the things your pet definitely should not eat — tinsel, macaroni ornaments, gift-wrap and bows — all those Christmas bulbs and porcelain angels adorning your home have the potential to get broken by a cat hopping up onto a side table or an over excited dog’s wagging tail. Make sure to place any breakables out of reach to prevent broken glass that could cause injuries. My family leaves the bottom couple of feet on the Christmas tree free of breakable glass bulbs that our dog has a habit of flinging across the room with her tail. Other options are boosting your tree up with a little table underneath, or setting up a dog fence around it to keep the tree (and presents!) safe from the dogs. Candles should be placed somewhere that pets won’t be able to knock them over as well.
Typical holiday plants, such as mistletoe, lilies, holly and Christmas rose, can cause gastrointestinal distress at the very least if ingested by your pets. Even the water your tree is sitting in could be stagnant and cause upset stomachs or worse. And, as cute as it may be for a holiday photo, tying a ribbon to your pet’s collar could easily result in them getting caught on something and choking.
Chocolate coins for Hanukkah should also be kept out of reach from pets, along with any small gifts that could create choking hazards.
Ringing in the New Year comes with balloons and confetti that could cause internal problems if eaten by a dog or cat. It also means a lot of noise and celebration at midnight that could overwhelm a pet that isn’t properly secured. Fireworks also tend to cause some skittishness in animals.
Remember that pets can become overwhelmed and misbehave or run away when things are more hectic than usual, such as during a party. Finding them a safe and quiet indoor hiding place away from the activities is a good idea, even if they normally spend time outside.