When we hit the month of October, I always have mixed feelings. It’s part excitement for the upcoming festivities of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve/Day, and other cultural celebrations, but also a time of stress with all the planning, traveling, gift-buying, and obligations.
It’s also a time of numerous potential hazards for our pets. This is the time of year when you’ll want to be extra careful to ensure the health and safety of your pet. Here are a few tips for the holidays most people celebrate.
- Say “no” to treats. Candy and decorations are also everywhere and can cause problems for your cat or dog. Remember that even though you know that certain treats like chocolate are bad for your dog, they don’t. If they see an opportunity to grab a forbidden treat, they’ll usually go for it. So make sure all the goodies you’re planning to hand out to trick-or-treaters (or just enjoy yourself) are safely out of sight and reach of your pet.
- Keep pets and decorations apart. Decorations are fun and a great way to get into the spirit of the season. But they’re not meant as toys or snacks for our pets, so take care when bringing out the decorations. Plastic decorations can pose a choking or digestive problem, as can fake cobwebs. Keep stray electrical cords for those cute plug-in dancing skeletons tucked away so your pet isn’t tempted to play with, and gnaw on them. If you have lit candles around the house, keep them in areas safe from your pet. Then can easily brush by an open flame and singe themselves or knock it over and start a fire.
- Don’t stress your pet. This spooky holiday also means a night of constant doorbell-ringing, knocking, and opening and closing the door. If your pet gets stressed with all the unusual commotion, you might want to keep your pet behind closed doors in a quiet, stress-free room. Also, if you usually keep your pets outdoors in the yard, consider keeping them indoors during the holidays. If your dog is one that doesn’t like people walking by your backyard and house, it might be especially stressful if there crowds walking around trick-or-treating. Also, there are plenty of pranksters out there who might want to tease or maybe harm your pet, so and you’ll want to keep your pet safely out of reach.
- Watch that front door. If you do have your pet out in the general living area, keep a close eye on the door and don’t let your pet dart out while you’re giving out treats. If you have guests coming and going because of a party, keep your pet in another room away from all the noise.
- No table scraps! Avoid giving your pets table scraps. I know it’s tempting, but giving your pets foods they aren’t used to can lead to upset stomachs, diarrhea, and/or vomiting. Also remember that foods that may be fine for us can be toxic to pets. Chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, and raisins are just some of the foods we eat that can cause severe illness and even death to our pets. If your pet is out and about when guests are present, remind them not to feed your pet people food, no matter how much your pet begs. Give your pet a special dog treat or a treat-filled toy to keep him happy and occupied during festivities.
- No bones! Don’t give your pets bones to chew on or eat. Cooked bones become very brittle and they can splinter, causing pets to choke or cause internal injuries.
- Beware the string. Be extra careful with that piece of string used to keep turkeys tied up. If your pet gets a hold of that and tries to eat it, he can choke or swallow it and have it cause intestinal blockage and injury. Dispose of it properly and make sure your pet can’t get into the garbage. If your pet does get a hold of the string and eats it, take him to the vet immediately.
- Keep decorations out of reach. When you bring out the decorations, keep in mind your pet’s safety. Keep candles out of reach. Sparkly, shiny ornaments might arouse too much attention from pets. Glass ornaments are especially hazardous because if they break, they can cause a lot of damage to your pet. Most cats love to play with and/or eat tinsel, so don’t tempt them! Colorful electric Christmas lights may look beautiful, but again, your pet might want to chew on or play with it, so keep them well out of reach or skip them all together.
- Pretty, poisonous plants. Some people like to put out decorative plants for the season. Keep in mind those that can be toxic to pets, such as mistletoe, holly, poinsettia, hibiscus, lilies, and Christmas rose. If you have a live Christmas tree, make sure your pet can’t get into and drink the water in the stand.
- Secure that tree. Cat + tree = trouble! Remember that your pets might find your pretty Christmas tree an inviting climbing post. Or they might want to get at that one ornament just out of reach. To prevent a big mess and a big hazard to your pet, secure your tree to a wall or post so it doesn’t come crashing down. Also make sure to keep your living area free of loose pine needles, which can be a hazard to pets if eaten.
- Keep in mind all the above tips about food and decorations.
- Take special care to keep your pet stress-free during loud, boisterous parties. If they don’t enjoy the company of too many people, keep them in a quiet room away from the noise. Or, consider boarding them for the night.
With all the activities of the upcoming season, it might be difficult to remember all the things you need to do and the places you have
to go. One thing to keep as a top priority during this time is your job to keep your pet safe, healthy, and happy. They’re counting on you!