If I made a list of the top ten things I was thankful for, my cat would be in the top five, right after my family, friends and health. Our Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations wouldn’t be the same without Libby, my loyal Silver Tabby, so while I am making preparations for holiday visitors, meals and decorating, I won’t forget to make preparations for her holiday too.
The holiday season is the most stressful time of year for a lot of us, and our pets are no stranger to the same type of holiday angst that we go through. They may not have shopping lists, parties, or issues with their relatives, but they suffer through upsets to their routine that force them to adapt and act in ways they don’t usually need to the rest of the year. Here are some ideas to keep your pet calm and stress-free during the holidays:
Guests in the Home:
- If you will entertain visitors, let your guests know your house rules before they visit. For example, tell them they can’t give human food to your pets and keep some pet treats on hand for the holidays.
- Cats need a quiet space, maybe in a separate bedroom, under the bed or in a closet where they can hide for awhile.
- If your dog gets stressed from all the noise and commotion, take him for a walk. Physical exercise can discharge some of that nervous energy.
- Since cigarette smoke is more hazardous to animals than it is to humans, ask your guests not to smoke. If they have to smoke, ask them to do it outside where other people and pets won’t be exposed to smoke and fumes.
- Ask guests to keep any medications in secure locations so pets can’t get into them
- If your pet shows signs of stress—aggressive behavior, excessive barking or meowing, stomach upsets—get them to a quiet space away from all the noise and activity. Assign a family member to be in charge of your pet.
- When you choose a holiday gift for your pet, try getting them something that will last rather than a one-time treat. Get them a new bed, toy or scratching post or make a donation to your favorite pet charity in your pet’s name.
Physical Dangers to Avoid:
The holidays are also full of physical dangers for pets. Here is a list of some holiday items that can be dangerous.
- Sweets and people food – A lot of the food we eat is toxic to animals. Common ingredients like Xylitol, can be harmful if ingested. Be sure your pet doesn’t get into the holiday human food to avoid upset tummies or more serious problems.
- Mistletoe, lilies, poinsettias and holly – all of them are toxic if ingested. Avoid them completely in all areas where your pets may roam. You can try fake silk plants in their place to achieve the same holiday aesthetic.
- Candles – Pets can knock them over and start house fires (or light themselves on fire). Keep lit candles up high where animals can’t reach them or better yet, use artificial flame votives that run on batteries. If you want your pets to enjoy Hanukkah, keep them away from the menorah!
- Christmas trees can get knocked over, so you can try attaching them to a small hook in the ceiling. If you have a live tree, cover the water container at the base of the tree so pets don’t drink the water. Bacteria starts to grow in stagnant water and makes pets sick.
- Electrical cords and batteries – Dangerous if chewed on or ingested. Keep cords and string lights coiled up or out of reach. This sturdy cords are also recommended. You can cover cords with carpets to keep them away from pets while keeping your house festive. Finally, keep batteries where they pets can’t get to them. Button batteries are the most ingested and can kill pets (and humans) in hours.
- Glass Ornaments – Dangerous for both mouths and paws! Keep them out of your pets’ reach so that they don’t accidentally knock them over and cause mischief.
- Tinsel – Can block the GI tract in pets if swallowed, so it’s better not to use it at all.
Being proactive about the situations your pet will encounter during the holidays will take some of the risk and stress out of your celebrations. Taking a few minutes to run a safety check on your home will help ensure a safe and happy holiday for your pet. Include your pet in your holiday celebrations and enjoy the season!
From all of your friends at Dallas Pets Alive!, both furry and human, we hope you and your family have a save and happy holiday.