Extra care needs to be taken of our pets at holiday time, so read on for my best Christmas pet safety tips.
Just because certain family members sport fur, feathers or even scales, and may have more legs than we do, does not mean they shouldn’t be able to join in the festivities of the holiday season.
In order to make it safe for our pets, we need to take a little extra care, so part of that time is not spent in the emergency room. When things get hectic, pets’ needs can sometimes get neglected. It may be a holiday, but it is never a holiday from the responsibilities of pet care.
Always make time to pay attention to your pets. Don’t get lax about walking your dog, cleaning your cat’s litter box, or letting your rabbit out of the hutch. If you worry there will be times you can’t give them your full attention, enlist the help of a trusted family member, neighbour or professional pet sitter/dog walker.
With people in and out of the house, there’s an increased risk of a pet getting out. Warn everyone to take extra care, or keep the front door locked if you have to.
If you don’t think you can safely monitor comings and goings, keep your pets separated in another part of the house – at least until everyone has arrived.
Now is a good time to make sure your pets are wearing ID tags, and all contact information is current.
Make a note of your vet’s holiday hours, the address of a 24 hour emergency hospital, and the number of the animal poison hotline. The last thing you want to do, is run around searching in a panic.
Now that all that has been said, here are some tips that should help you keep your pets safe, and allow everyone to have a happy Christmas
Anchor your tree so it doesn’t fall on your pets.
Fence it off, or sweep up tree needles regularly. They’re sharp and can get stuck in your pets’ paws, or cause internal damage if ingested.
Although poinsettias have a low level of toxicity for cats and dogs, it is still best to keep them out of reach. Far more dangerous are mistletoe, lilies and holly. To be on the safe side, keep all flowers and plants out of reach.
Tree water can contain fertilizers, bacteria, or even aspirin. A screen around the tree may be the easiest way to keep pets away from that particular water source.
When you’re out, close the door to the room your tree is in.
Animals always seem to gravitate to the new things you bring into your home, don’t they? Imagine the temptation of trees, plants, decorations, bright colours and flashing lights.
Watch out for tinsel. The shine is a real attraction, and can be eaten, or become wrapped around the animals’ neck.
If your pet is freaked out by twinkling lights, buy ones that don’t.
Snow globes can contain anti freeze, which is deadly to pets. Pay attention to where you place them.
Cords are a tangling hazard, and some animals consider them a chew toy. Hide them, cover them, tape them down.
Who doesn’t love lit candles, and logs burning in the fireplace? Use fireplace screens, and keep candles out of reach. Never leave burning candles unattended, even if you think you will only be gone for a second. It never works out that way. Battery operated “faux” candles are an alternative, and some are quite beautiful. While they may not be an exact replacement for the real thing, you won’t have any of the real worry.
Who isn’t guilty of slipping their pets a little something, from the dinner table? If you aren’t, great, but if we’re talking about you…
When you’re sitting around the table, enjoying your feast with family and friends, it’s an exciting time for your pets, because there are so many more people your animals can beg from. It also means a greater chance of stomach problems.
Even if you’re used to feeding them table scraps, it’s probably best to put a blanket ban on that practice for now.
Poultry bones can splinter once swallowed and cause damage, and food too rich for sensitive stomachs can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and even pancreatitis.
Never give sweets or chocolate. Remove all candy, even sealed boxes from their line of sight. We’ve all seen our pets accomplish amazing feats, when they put their minds to it.
Don’t leave glasses with alcohol lying around for pets to lick.
Keep your garbage can in a cupboard, but if you prefer it out for the sake of convenience, make it pet proof.
Gifts and Wrapping
Of course you want to include your pet in the holiday by giving them presents. Just buy ones suitable for animals.
Take care when the rest of the family are opening their gifts. Immediately throw out gift wrapping, ribbon, bows, and plastic packaging. They’ll be swiped before you know it.
Don’t leave the kids’ toys lying around either. Small pieces can be bitten off, and cause choking or blockages.
All the extra people in the house, means lots of extra noise. Kids running around, music playing, champagne bottles being opened, Christmas crackers and balloons. While some animals have no problem, and are more than happy to be in the middle of the mayhem, others are more skittish and will feel quite nervous and stressed.
Make sure they have a quiet place where they can hide. Put a bed, blanket, water and toys so they’ll feel comfortable.
If your pet is particularly freaked out, there are natural remedies, relaxation cds and traditional medications that may be helpful. Speak to your vet for some suggestions.
Depending on where you live of course, Christmas can bring some nasty weather. Christmas or not, animal care is not seasonal. Consider limiting the amount of time they’re outside, and putting them in a coat or sweater. Salted sidewalks can burn your dogs’ paws, so try booties or one of the protective creams on the market.
Christmas pet safety tips – conclusion
Remember to never give pets as presents. You want to get a family pet? Do it some other time of the year. Kids should be taught to respect animals, and not view them as things. They need to learn there’s a difference between an animal and a sweater.
I hope you will find these Christmas pet safety tips useful, and by taking just a few precautions, you’re in for a very, merry Holiday season.