Whether you have a rambunctious puppy or kitten, or an older, mellower pet, the holiday season amps up everyone’s excitement. With delicious feasts, shiny decorations, fluttering flames, and scary strangers, your pet has many opportunities to get into harm. You may believe your well-trained pooch wouldn’t snatch the turkey from the table, or your chubby tabby is too lazy to scale the tree, but the holidays may bring out your furry friend’s mischievous side. Help keep your home—and your pet—safe from any disasters during the most wonderful time of year with the following tips:
#1: Decorate your Christmas tree with safety in mind
As the highlight of your holiday decorating, your Christmas tree is likely to attract attention. Unfortunately, your pet may hike a leg on the indoor tree, bat at the shiny baubles, scurry to the star on top, or nibble on the glittery tinsel. The tree presents many hazards for pets, including falling over, glass ornament shards, chemical-laden water, electric shocks and burns, foreign-body obstructions, or tree-sap irritation. Decorate your tree with your pet’s safety in mind using unbreakable ornaments, avoiding tinsel, tying the tree firmly in place, and covering the tree-stand’s water basin.
#2: Pick the perfect location for your tree
Trees often are placed in the corner next to a piece of furniture, but this may be a poor location because, for example, your couch can serve as a launching pad for your frisky kitty to jump onto the flimsy upper limbs. Instead, consider placing your tree in an area your pet can’t easily reach. Closed doors, baby gates, and exercise pens can also keep out naughty paws, and keep your tree looking gorgeous and your pet safe.
#3: Give your pet an early gift
With your disrupted schedule from visiting family and friends, and tantalizing, yet off-limits, treats, take your pet’s mind off the holiday commotion by rewarding her with an early gift. A food puzzle or long-lasting treat is the perfect distraction from the unattended Christmas ham.
#4: Place stockings well out of pets’ reach
Pets love to bat at stockings, but they’re often placed in front of roaring fires. Avoid hanging your stockings where they may lure your pet close to an open flame. Also, consider keeping stockings well out of reach to prevent your pet from pulling a heavy stocking holder down on her head.
#5: Avoid bringing toxic plants into your home
You’ve probably heard that poinsettias are toxic to pets and can easily kill them, when they are in fact only mildly irritating. However, amaryllis, lilies, holly, and mistletoe are more serious concerns and can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, kidney failure, and sometimes death. Search the list of toxic plants compiled by the ASPCA to check whether your festive flowers or greenery can harm your pet, or switch to artificial versions.
#6: Blow out the flames
Although nothing can replace the warmth and glow of a real flame, use battery-operated candles. Window lights, menorahs, and candles can become a fire hazard if placed in reach of a playful puppy or curious cat. Switch to battery-operated candles that will prevent singed whiskers, or worse, a house fire, but preserve a similar ambience.
#7: Toss out the tinsel
Sparkly garlands of tinsel and ribbon-wrapped gifts can lure an unsuspecting pet into danger. Naughty cats like to nibble on tinsel, ribbons, and other strings, which can become a linear foreign body that requires emergency surgery. Dangers also include the line used to string popcorn garlands, as pets can snack on the popcorn and wind up with a string stuck in their intestines.
#8: Empty the trash
If you managed to make it through Christmas dinner without caving to your pet’s begging eyes, don’t make the mistake of leaving leftovers in the trash. Tantalizing aromas may entice your furry friend to dumpster dive and scarf down fatty ham, garlic mashed potatoes, or grandma’s fruitcake, all which can have serious health consequences. Keep a lid on the trash or remove leftovers immediately to avoid tempting your pet into a case of pancreatitis, kidney failure, or an intestinal obstruction.
These tips will help keep your pet safe during the holidays, but if you missed a potential hazard when pet-proofing your home, give us a call.