Even though we love to deck the halls, raise toasts, and gather loved ones around warm hearths, our furry family members don’t always share the same affection for the holiday season.
Make sure your pets feel included—and stay safe—during the holidays with these eight must-do pet safety tips.
1. Establish House Rules
There’s no place like home for the holidays, and that means lots of friends and family dropping by, staying over and entering your pet’s domain. To keep everyone merry, establish some basic house rules for visitors who may not be used to living with animals. Let your guests know when and how they can best lavish attention on your pet. If your pup is easily overstimulated, ask guests to give her space. If she loves making new friends, encourage extra belly rubs. Also, be clear about how your pet gets along with other animals and small children—this way everyone will be sure to have a happy holiday.
2. Decide on Safe Spaces
Sometimes we all need a little time to ourselves. With the hubbub of the holidays, your four-legged friends can benefit from knowing there’s a quiet place where they can safely get away from the action. Provide a cozy spot for your kitty to take a snooze—and don’t forget to include his favorite toy and a festive bowl of fresh water. You can provide your dog or cat with a crate, or give them their own room if possible, where they can stay safe and sane amidst all the festivities.
3. Secure Your Tree
Nothing invokes holiday spirit like a splendidly dressed tree, but these bedazzled icons can be dangerous for an overly curious kitty or rambunctious pup. Secure your tree to keep it from tipping and falling over. A stable tree also prevents spilled water, which can be filled with chemicals and byproducts that may hurt your pet if ingested. You also want to avoid hazardous trimmings like tinsel, as they can become choking hazards or lead to blocked digestive tracts.
4. A Second Pair of Eyes
Whether you’re hosting Christmas dinner or heading out of town for Hanukkah, chances are your best friends will be on their own more than usual during the holidays. Banish any worries you might have with a home security system that includes cameras, perimeter alerts, and remote-viewing capabilities. This way you can keep an eye on—and even interact with—your beloved animals no matter where you are. Most security systems let you tune in via smartphone, tablet, or any computer with internet access so you can always make sure your pet’s safe.
5. Fence in Flames
If you plan to roast your chestnuts on an open fire this holiday season, you want to make sure your dog or cat can enjoy the warm glow without getting hurt. Place all candles in stable holders and put them where pets can’t accidentally knock them over. Always use a fireplace screen and never leave candles or fires unattended.
6. Provide Healthy Handouts
With so much yummy food around, Fido is bound to catch a dropped piece of fruitcake or potatoes. Make sure she doesn’t put on extra holiday weight—or eat something that could make her sick—by asking guests to refrain from sharing table scraps. Instead, provide healthy, safe snacks that guests can give her when it’s time for a treat.
7. Travel Safely
You probably don’t want to ring in the new year without your best friend, but holiday travel can be even worse for our pets. Make travel safe and comfy for your furry friends by giving them a safe, anchored space where they can’t distract a driver or roam into danger. If you’re going on a road trip, plan several rest stops on your itinerary and talk to your vet about safe solutions for motion sickness and anxiety.
8. Avoid Harmful Seasonal Greenery
Many of the season’s most abundant flora and fauna are harmful to pets. Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias all pose risks to your four-legged family members. If you can’t resist the lure of traditional holiday greens, opt for silk plants or seek out a pet-safe arrangement of less harmful plants in bright reds, greens, and whites. Tulips and roses are fragrant, beautiful alternatives that you and your pets can safely enjoy.
The holidays are a time for giving, celebrating, and drawing loved ones near. Make sure your canine and feline friends remain safe and happy by taking these thoughtful safety precautions this holiday season.