December brings us smack dab in the middle of the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or perhaps the slightly lesser known Festivus season, you are bound to be busy and a touch removed from your “normal” routine. Some of us will be travelling, others are working on a holiday celebration that would charm the likes of Martha Stewart. Regardless of how you plan to celebrate over these next few weeks, I ask that you keep a few things in mind to insure your beloved pet doesn’t end up on the “naughty” list, or even worse, in the emergency clinic this season.
“O Christmas Tree” – Christmas trees are a sight to behold, but for our pets they may inspire a more interactive appreciation. Although Fido is likely less apt to climb the tree than his feline companion, it isn’t impossible. In order to keep our pets (and those shiny sentimental keepsakes intact), be sure to securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall. If you have a real tree, be sure to discourage your pets from drinking the water, not only will it dry out your beautiful tree, but it could cause some unwanted tummy troubles for your pet.
This warning once again may be directed more towards our feline friends, but dog owners take heed as well. Tinsel and ribbon may be beautiful, but they can be dangerous as well. Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery.
No Feasting for the Furries
By now most of you know not to feed your pets chocolate or sugar-free treats sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising fur kid will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food. While you’re at it, be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans as well. Excess fatty, and greasy foods that your pets do not typically dine on, can lead to stomach pyrotechnics in front of your guests, and ingested meat bones can cause painful obstructions that may require emergency surgery to remove.
Looking to stuff your pet’s stockings? Be sure to choose gifts that are safe. Toys like Kongs are a great gift as they can be stuffed with healthy foods and used year round. Rawhides and other edible treats are great gifts in moderation. Be sure to keep these gifts hidden until you plan to give them to your pet so that he or she doesn’t eat all the “gifts” in one sitting.
For your feline counterparts you can surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or a few edible treats to enjoy throughout the next few weeks.
Forget the Mistletoe & Holly
If your pet ingests holly, he/she may suffer nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies, can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested so keep your poinsettias out of reach. Instead, opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.
That Holiday Glow
Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!
Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock, and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus. Keeping ornaments out of your pets reach will ensure your pet’s mouth stays healthy as hard plastic or glass pieces could lead to painful cuts and other damage.
If your guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you’re busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session. Make certain that your pets are micro-chipped before the guests arrive, frequent coming and goings may lead to an escaped member of the family. Surely chasing your dog all over town is a great way to burn the calories before the holiday meal, but I think everyone involved would prefer a little less excitement in their holiday celebrations.
A Room of Their Own
Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in an open yet covered crate or in a separate room away from the hubbub.
While it may seem as if peril is stalking your pet at every turn this holiday season, don’t fret. A little common sense and prior planning can go far when it comes to celebrating a safe and happy holiday with your pet. Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season!