The holidays are a wonderful time to reunite with family and friends over delicious food and time-honored traditions. But, from dangerous foods, to decorations, to visitors, this time of year can lead to a variety of hazardous situations for pets. Here’s how to keep things festive and fun, and your pet free from harm, this year and beyond:
#1: Resist the urge to offer your pet holiday table scraps
One of the most important things you can do for your pet this holiday season is not giving them table food. Resisting those tempting gazes as you prepare fresh pumpkin pie and Grandma’s homemade mashed potatoes may be hard, but doing so may save you a trip to Florida Veterinary Referral Center & 24-Hour Emergency Hospital. While a few licks may seem harmless for your pet, fat-laden dishes can induce gastrointestinal upset or pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation of the pancreas that may require hospitalization.
#2: Forego the communal snack bowls
Many families choose to keep small bowls of candies, nuts, or other snacks around the home to satiate family members and guests between mealtimes. The problem with these convenient little dishes is that most of them are placed for easy access to people—and pets. And, while you or I may limit how many almonds or caramels we eat, our furry friends most likely will not practice such moderate behavior.
#3: Secure your Christmas tree
Don’t be surprised if your feline friends see your new holiday tree as an inviting, novel climbing structure. Attempting to ascend a potentially unstable Christmas tree may result in a toppled topiary, or worse—an injured cat. To minimize the chance of an accident, consider tethering your tree to a wall or other secure surface.
#4: Keep festive flora out of paws’ reach
Popular holiday plants like poinsettias and mistletoe are unlikely to cause drastic toxic effects to pets who ingest them, but they can cause skin and stomach irritation. If you can’t forego the festive flora this year, ensure they are not pet-accessible. If lilies are on your flower shop list, consider choosing an alternative blossom, because these flowers are highly toxic to cats—with only minor exposure.
#5: Be mindful of lights, candles, and potpourris
Nothing says “holiday cheer” like twinkly lights, candles, and scented products. When used responsibly, string lights are a great holiday addition to any home, but, since they present the possibility of strangulation and electrocution, they may not be worth the risk. Candles pose obvious fire and burn hazards, while popular potpourris can be extremely irritating, especially to sensitive cats.
#6: Trim your tree responsibly
Who doesn’t love decorating the tree each year? Reminiscing over ornaments and garlands is a much-loved tradition, but, if you share your home with pets, you’ll want to leave some items in the storage box. Tinsel, with its long, sparkly strings is especially enticing to curious cats, and if ingested, can lead to a linear foreign body—a dangerous condition that almost always requires surgery. For obvious safety reasons, consider swapping glass ornaments for plastic ones, especially if you have rambunctious pets.
#7: Prep your pet for travel
If a road trip or plane travel with your pet are on your agenda this year, you’ll need to prepare ahead of time. Airlines will require a health certificate from your veterinarian and, depending on where you are headed, your pet may need additional vaccinations or prevention products.
#8: Stick to your pet’s routine
With everyone home on vacation and school and work schedules out the window, don’t let your pet get lost in the shuffle. Pets thrive on a routine, so keep their feeding, walking, and playing schedules relatively normal.
#9: School guests on your house—and pet—rules
Does Fluffy love her ears scratched, but hates when you touch her toes? Is feeding pets from the table off-limits? Is Fido allowed on the bed? The key to a happy, harmonious home lies in ensuring everyone is on the same page, so ensure you voice your requests to holiday visitors.
#10: Offer your pet a quiet respite
The hustle and bustle of holiday festivities can exhaust anyone. For pets, who may not understand the change in scenery and unfamiliar guests, this can often be a stressful time. Set up a place in your home for only your pet, complete with a cozy bed or crate and a few toys, where they can retreat when they need a break from the excitement.
At Florida Veterinary Referral Center, we care about your pet’s safety this holiday season. If your pet experiences a holiday-related emergency, contact our veterinary team immediately, or head to our 24/7 emergency hospital in Estero, Florida.