The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and the air is getting cooler. We all know what that means -- the holiday season is nearly upon us. While our winter holidays are viewed as a time for love and family, and not normally associated with hazards, these festivities can be fraught with peril for our four legged friends. Thankfully, navigating the choppy waters of pet holiday safety doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow these holiday safety tips and you’re sure to have nothing but fun and sugar plums dreams this season.
1. Give them an escape
For many pets, the stresses of the holidays stem mainly from the constant visitors. If your house is the one everyone flocks to for a holiday dinner, make sure your pets have a place where they can get away from the hustle and bustle.
One note: The coat room might not be the best place to leave them, as a pile of coats might make a pretty appealing place to sleep on (and shed all over).
2. Know your no-no foods
With the smell of delicious foods wafting through the air, your pets may plead for you to give them a taste, which is ok, but only so long as they are given a small portion of pet-safe foods along with their everyday dog or cat food. Most importantly make sure that anything you give them is free of:
- Grapes & Raisins
- Chocolate (and other candies)
A safe bet is to stick to some turkey, ham, or pumpkin to give your pet a taste of the holiday season. But absolutely no bones or alcohol!
3. Keep your lights out of reach
One of the most fun activities of the holiday season is lighting up your house, but with pets running around, you need to be careful where you hang the cords. Make sure any lights hung inside are safely out of reach, or taped down.
4. Exercise tree safety
If you are decorating a tree, make sure all the ornaments are not only hung with care, but secured to the point that not even the most clever cat could unfasten them. Using both rope and hooks tends to be effective. As for ornaments, while you may be tempted to use candy canes and gingerbread men to deck your tree, avoid it -- these snacks are not only a surefire way to tempt your pet onto the tree, but they are also no good for them to eat. Also, glass ornaments, while precious, are also just begging to be smashed on the floor and stepped on by your barefoot pal.
As for the tree itself, it is a good idea to not only put it in a secure base, but to have it tied to the wall or the ceiling, thereby reinforcing it against the almost certain attacks flung at it by curious pets. Also, since most of these attacks are launched from atop a cabinet or couch back, if you can isolate the tree in some way, it might help give it a leg up on your pet’s attempts.
Lastly, absolutely no tinsel! It might be glittery and pretty, but if your cat or dog eats it, they are going to need to be taken to the vet.
5. Don’t play with fire
Many of these winter holidays place an emphasis on fire (looking at you, Hanukkah), and while the candles represent an important (if not central) part of the holiday, it only takes one curious cat or dog knocking over your menorah to reduce your eight nights of celebration into one miserable night of waiting on your front lawn for the fire department to arrive.
After you light the candles and say your bruchas, put the menorah somewhere it can be easily kept an eye on, and do so until the candles burn out (should be about 35 minutes, unless you are a maccabee). Same thing goes for Christmas candles.
6. Be the wrapping paper police
Everyone loves gifts -- wrapped up all nice with a big pretty bow. However, should your dog should scarf one down, or even worse, eat a ribbon, watch out -- just like with tinsel, you are going to be quickly on your way to the hospital.
A good solution to this problem is to think minimal when wrapping your gifts. If you can avoid ribbons, do so, as they are the most dangerous part for cats and dogs.
7. 'Tis the season for poisonous plants?
It is a mystery why this time of year has so many plants that can make your pets sick, but it does-- mistletoe, poinsettias, and holly are among the most poisonous plants for cats and dogs. The best solution for this? Don’t have these plants around. Fake ones can be just as pretty (and reusable!).
If you’re determined to have any of these plants, treat them the same way you would lit candles or a bowl of chocolate candies -- make sure they are out of reach, and in a place where you can keep an eye on them.
And if you follow these guidelines, you should be able to keep your pet, your decorations, and your slaved over meals safe this holiday season.
More on Pets During the Holidays
Pet Safety for the Holiday Infographic
5 Dog Christmas Outfits for the Howl-iday Season
Cat Christmas Trees to Distract Your Cat from the Big Tree