6 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe During the Holidays

The holidays. Such a wonderful time of year. With family, friends and festive gatherings abound, it's no wonder why this time of year makes our spirits bright. But, with so many activities, it's easily to overlook a few things when it comes to keeping your pets safe throughout the holiday season.

Here are a few simple tips to ensure your pets can safely still be apart of your festivities.

Holiday Dinners

As you are most likely familiar, chocolate, onions, raisins, grapes and alcohol are toxic to pets. So, if your roast is basted in onions and you have extra slices of yule log, do not share them with your four-legged family member.

Of course, they do deserve a special holiday feast, too. For cats we recommend PetGuard’s Premium Feast Dinner. For dogs, PetGuard’s Grain Free Turkey and Sweet Potato Stew in Gravy.

Plants, Flowers and Other Unlikely Hazards

Familiarize yourself with plants and flowers that are toxic to pets. This is important for giving as well as receiving. Holly and mistletoe can be toxic. For those who simply cannot leave poinsettias out of their decor, they're generally not toxic. If the leaves are consumed, they may cause nausea and vomiting, however it would take a large amount to cause poisoning. Most animals will not eat enough due to the irritating taste and feel from the sap.

The ASPCA offers a comprehensive lists of toxic and non-toxic plants.

With guests in the home, there are often unfamiliar items which your pet may want to examine ... and possibly ingest. Suitcases lying open in a room may be a big temptation for your pets. Snacks, medicines or even the errant sock left behind by an unknowing guest, could be inviting for your pet. Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too. 

Should your pet ingest something they shouldn’t have, please call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1.888.426.4435.

Oh, Christmas Tree

Bringing a real tree into your home for the holidays is beautiful and festive but be wary that your dogs and cats may be very interested in it – afterall, you’re brining in a little bit of the outdoors into your home. If you notice that Fido or Fluffy sizing it up, make sure that it’s secured. One solid leap from a cat or an excited jump from your pooch could send your tree toppling over on to more than just the neatly wrapped packages beneath it. Also, be sure that your pets aren’t drinking the tree water as it can be toxic if ingested.

Other Decorations

Keep an eye on low-hanging decorations. Jingle bells, tinsel, ribbon and ornaments may looks like toys to your pets. An innocent swat with a paw could lead to chewing and swallowing – and eventually a trip to the emergency vet. Tinsel is especially dangerous. It can easily wrap itself around your pet’s intestines or ball up in their stomach once ingested.

This advice also extends to your New Year’s decorating as well. While balloons are great decorations, they don’t make good toys for pets. Your cat or dog can be startled if they pop, and possibly choke on or swallow the fragments. Balloon ribbons can also be a problem, particularly for cats who enjoy chasing and chewing on them. And, like tinsel, ingesting ribbon can cause vomiting or intestinal blockage.

Electrical Wire

Wires from decorative lights can be an invitation for cats and dogs to gnaw on or get tangled in. To discourage chewing, mix up a blend of lemon juice, cayenne pepper and water. Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and douse the cords in the solution. One taste and even the most stubborn pet will stop. A moment of your pet’s discomfort is certainly better than a shock or electrical fire.

The Menorah or Other Holiday Candles

As you light the candles, out of the corner of your eye you see your cat crouched down, eyes dilated, backside wiggling ... we all know where this is going, and it won't end well. If pyrotechnics is not what you had in mind as an accompaniment to your latkes, keep your kitty away from the mesmerizing flames. We suggest placing your menorah in a spot where kitty can't get to it or consider opting for an electric version. This also applies to the special holiday candles, votives and centerpieces.

Keeping Your Pets Comfortable During the Holidays

After you make your house safe for your pets, give them the extra comfort they need during this busy season. 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 their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub. 

If your animal-loving 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.

As you celebrate the New Year, be aware that noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. And remember that many pets are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.

We wish all of our current and future PetGuardians™ and their beloved pets a safe, happy holiday season!