Dr. Al Townshend
The holidays are a time of peace, joy, and goodwill to all. Families come together to celebrate their faith, their bond to one another, and their friends and community. The family pets will often be included in many of the events in the home this time of the year.
It is the time of the year for music, elaborate decorations, fabulous meals, and tasty snacks. There will be knocks at the door and guests joining the celebrations. It is a time of the year we all look forward to.
When planning the events, it is important to step back and consider the pets of the family. Nothing can spoil holiday cheer like an emergency visit to the veterinarian. There will likely be many temptations and opportunities that can increase the risk of a disaster if not considered in advance.
Below are a few things to consider in advance to reduce the risk of a disaster and ensure a safe and joyous holiday season.
- Holiday foods are a tremendous attraction for pets. Be sure they are out of reach and secure. Be careful; too much of a good thing can spoil the celebration for all.
- Giving sweets containing chocolate, xylitol (an artificial sweetener), or grapes/raisins should be avoided as they have the potential of being toxic to both dogs and cats.
- Holiday plants, especially holly, poinsettias, mistletoe, and lilies, are poisonous and should be kept out of harm’s way.
- The Christmas tree can be extremely appealing, especially for kitties and young dogs. Be sure it is secure and can withstand the extra weight of a climber. Cover the base, especially if the water in the base contains fertilizers. Placing packages under the tree or fencing the tree with items can discourage potential problems. Keeping decorations away from the lower branches of the tree can help to deter pets from trying to play with them.
- Cats seem to love the tinsel that is used to decorate the tree. If eaten, it can cause severe digestive issues that can be life-threatening.
- Candles should never be unattended. Curiosity can result in burns, or worse yet, a fire. The use of flameless candles where possible can be a solution.
- Loud noises, especially New Year’s celebration noise in the home and outside, can be more than the pet can stand. Be sure there is a safe and secure room for the pet with fresh water and a place to snuggle up and hide.
If your pet is susceptible to noise, a ThunderShirt might be a solution option – available Pet Planet.
- Be careful around exits if your pets seem stressed. Friends coming and going can offer a way to escape the stress.
- It is important to be very selective when it comes to gifts for the pet during the holidays. Toys should be safe and durable. Make sure there no strings or buttons that can be chewed off and eaten. Treats should be of the same quality as the food the pet is eating. Pet Planet has a large selection of toys, treats and chews that would make great stocking stuffers for you beloved pets. Check out our selection here.
- It is always wise any time of the year to have emergency information readily available just in case. Posting numbers for the family veterinarian, the emergency clinic, and Poison Control Center (ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435) on the refrigerator can save time. Be sure your pet has a microchip and/or identification on a collar just in case.
A little pre-planning can assure both Guardians, their pets, and guests can all celebrate the holidays with peace and joy for all!