As a nation, our pets are like family, so let's make sure they enjoy the holidays with us while staying safe. As a general rule of thumb, always keep pets on a regular routine, even during the holiday season. Don't let regular feeding, exercising and playing times fall by the wayside as you go about your merry way shopping, entertaining and enjoying the festivities.
That being said, the holidays bring about special circumstances, from houseguests to decorations, that can be unsafe for pets. With a little extra diligence, you can help keep pets safe from these seasonal dangers. Here are some holiday safety tips to keep in mind for pets:
- Anchor your tree securely so it doesn’t fall over on people or pets.
- Ensure pets can't get to the water keeping your tree lush and green. It may contain fertilizers and bacteria that can make them sick.
- While trimming your tree, forgo the tinsel. It's too tempting for pets, and they may accidentally swallow it, causing internal damage that could require surgery. Also keep any ornaments, lights and electrical wires that may interest pets out of reach.
- Place lit candles on a non-flammable surface, away from the areas your pet frequents. And never leave burning candles unattended.
- Skip the mistletoe. And the holly. And the lilies and poinsettias. While these plants are often synonymous with the season, they can also be dangerous - even deadly - if pets decide to nibble on them.
- Be careful where you place edible decorations, such as popcorn garland and gingerbread houses. They shouldn't be within reach of your pets.
- Keep any food items you're giving as gifts tucked away so pets can't tear into them. Under the tree is no place for these – especially if it's something toxic, such as chocolate.
- If any of the goodies under the tree require batteries, don't leave extra ones sitting out where pets can get to them and chew on them.
- Clean up thoroughly after the present opening extravaganza. Any ribbons or silica gel packs left out could look like a toy to your pet.
- Ensure pets don't sample the holiday treats – keep human food and adult beverages out of reach, as well as a tight lid on the trashcan.
- Have guests, whether they are staying for a few hours or several days, keep their bags tightly zipped so pets can't get into medications and other hazards.
- Prepare a quiet room or a kennel with fresh water where pets can relax away from the noise and crowds of any celebrations you're hosting.
Take your pets' safety and well-being into account when you're preparing for and celebrating the season so the entire family – furry or not – can enjoy the holidays together. If your pets do become ill despite your efforts, seek emergency help. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals operates a 24-hour Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.