Tips for Holiday Pet Safety and Special Care

Tips for Holiday Pet Safety and Special Care

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio

The holidays truly can be the most wonderful time of the year for people and pets. Just picture those bright holiday stockings overflowing with biscuits, bones, and exciting new toys… special holiday meals with all the fixings, lots of new faces coming to visit, and fun times romping around in the snow. But the holidays pose some hidden dangers for our furry friends, too. It’s important to safeguard our pets this time of year to prevent any mishaps or injuries from occurring.

Hidden dangers lurk around almost every corner as the winter holidays approach. Be on the lookout for things that can be harmful to your unsuspecting, inquisitive pet. Skip an unintended trip to the emergency vet and follow these helpful holiday safety tips to keep your pets out of danger for the holidays. 

Dangerous Decorations

• Beware of your pets getting into various toxins and poisons that seem innocent. Holly, mistletoe and lilies should be kept out of reach of all pets. Poinsettias, although believed by some to be highly poisonous to pets, are only mildly toxic, according to

• Anchor down your Christmas tree to prevent injuries. Cats are notorious for climbing into Christmas trees!

• Prevent pets from drinking the water for your live Christmas tree. Trees treated with fertilizer may emit this into the water, not to mention the possibility of bacteria growth.

• Do not add anything to the tree water to prolong its vigor. Aspirin and other additives can put your pet’s life at great risk if ingested.

• Keep your pets clear of pine needles, which can puncture their intestines if ingested.

• Tinsel is another danger – hang it high or don’t use it at all.

• Clean up broken ornaments immediately to prevent cuts, embedded glass and possible internal injuries.

• Secure wires and electrical gadgets as best as possible to make them less enticing to your pets, minimizing risk of shock or injury.

• Keep candles and wax fragrance burners out of reach of wagging tails.

Outdoor Precautions

• Shovel a path outside when it snows to give your pup an easier route to go potty.

• Work to remove ice from your deck or porch to prevent slips and broken nails.

• Don’t allow pets to stay outside for long durations of time in cold temperatures or during precipitation.

Perilous Goodies

• You may already know that chocolate is a no-no, but other human foods can be harmful to pets, too. Avoid giving scraps altogether, but especially avoid raisins and grapes, anything sweetened with xylitol, onions, garlic and so forth.

• Secure the trashcans to prevent pets from getting into chicken bones and other hazards.

• Immediately dispose of items opened by the can opener to prevent cuts.

• Keep all alcoholic beverages and even the empties out of paws’ reach.

Comfort and Toys

• Keep your pet’s collar with identification on whenever guests come to the house in case your pet escapes. Remind guests to quickly close the door behind them when coming and going.

• Prevent pets from getting into the ribbons and bows from gift wrap. Many times staples are still attached to the bows and any of these materials can cause problems if eaten.

• Watch pets closely to ensure they don’t chew and eat childrens’ toys.

• Give your pet a safe place to go when he or she becomes overwhelmed. If your pet is not used to so many people or even small children, the safest thing for your pet and your guests may be to give your dog or cat a break in a separate part of your home. Watch for signs of distress.

Special Care for Pets around the Holidays

Make the holidays just as special for your pets as they are to you. Remember to keep up your pet’s healthy exercise routine and keep their diet from going out of control. Once you’ve got the safety tips down, look into making your pet’s holidays merry and bright.

Spend a little extra time grooming

Give your pup a soothing bath with a new shampoo that smells amazing, like coconut or lavender. Make sure nails are trimmed neatly to prevent snags and injury in any ice outside. Brush and comb your pet for a fluffy, picture-perfect appearance. Your friends and family will surely notice, winning your pet some additional scratches and snuggles.

Serve a special dinner

When the whole family is enjoying turkey, ham, lasagna or Seven Fishes, it only makes sense that your favorite feline or Fido gets to enjoy an extra yummy meal, too. Many veterinarians discourage feeding our pets table food (though you might get away with one small slice), so look into gourmet pet foods and specialty entrees at your favorite pet store or in the pet aisle at your grocery store. Mix in some wet food with your pet’s usual dry kibble or substitute if needed.

Treat your companion to a special snack

When you unavoidably plunge into that seemingly bottomless tin of Christmas cookies, take note of the sad puppy dog eyes or curious kitty face watching you, hungrily. ‘Tis the season of sharing… Never give pets chocolate, but realize that a dog biscuit or cat treat offered when you help yourself to your own snacks can really help to spread the love this
holiday season.

Spend some extra time cuddling and playing

Most of the time, all your pets really want and need is a little extra time and love from you. Make a point to snuggle more, giving your dog or cat the loving attention they so deserve. As you begin to plan celebrations for the holidays with family and friends, remember your pets and their needs, too. Make it a special time for everyone, tails or not.

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