How to Keep Your Pet Safe During the Holidays

We love celebrating the holidays with our friends and families, including the furry members. From pet sweaters to stockings hung just for them, many of us consider our cats and dogs to be one of the family.

But all those festivities bring a range of dangers for our pets from live Christmas trees and dangling ornaments to our famous brownies and other holiday treats. Include your pets in the holiday celebrations and keep them safe. Pet proof your home with these safety tips and be prepared for pet “accidents.”

Holidays Are Stressful for Pets, Too

Your home gets busy around the holidays and that increased activity can leave your furry friends feeling overwhelmed. From family and friends stopping by to exchange gifts and food to unfamiliar décor and scents, your pet can get stressed out from changes to their familiar environment. You can help your pet enjoy the celebrations when you give them a safe space.

Create a safe, quiet space for pets to calm down from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. A bedroom in the back of the house away from all those strangers, a warm, quiet place in the garage and other out-of-the-way spaces give your pet a place to retreat, so they can relax and avoid the noise and excitement. For cats, a cardboard box or other container placed far away from the festivities is often enough to create a cozy space to keep them safe.

Christmas Trees and Presents Pose a Range of Dangers

Cats are notorious for climbing Christmas trees, tugging at garlands and investigating all your holiday décor. Dogs can bump into trees, chew up discarded bows and gift wrap and nibble on the fallen pine needles. If they get thirsty, any pet is likely to drink water from your tree stand, which poses its own dangers. If the water sits for a long time, it can become infested with bacteria, which can cause your pet to become ill. Be sure to cover the tree stand with a tree skirt, so it doesn’t tempt them.

Secure your indoor tree with a discrete bit of twine to keep it from falling over if your dog bumps it or your cat climbs it. Tinsel can add a nice sparkling touch to your Christmas tree, but make sure you hang it up out of your pet’s reach. If you have cats, you may want to forego this traditional Christmas decorating staple altogether. Ingesting tinsel can block pets digestive tracts, cause serious complications and even require surgery. 

Just like tinsel, Christmas tree lights should be out of reach. Tree lights around the lower branches of your tree can entangle pets, burn them and give them a shock if they chew on wires. Ornaments should also be out of reach. From broken glass ornaments that can injure your pet’s paws or mouth to small tree decorations that can choke them or block their intestines, all that pretty, dangling décor can be dangerous. 

Also avoid edible decorations on your tree like popcorn strings and gingerbread men. The temptation for your pets will just be too much and they could end up choking or knocking over your Christmas tree. Just as tempting and more accessible, live trees shed pine needles that can upset your pets‘ stomachs and even puncture their intestines. Keep your tree watered and vacuum or sweep up those pine needles daily for your petssafety

Presents underneath the tree and around the house can also pose risks. Curious cats and dogs can tug at those dangling gift tags and even chew them up and swallow them. Instead, go with sicker-type labels that are much safer for pets. Consider using your own pet-safe tags for gifts to others who have pets

In the flurry of activity on Christmas day, it may be fun to watch your pet roll around in all that discarded wrapping paper, bows and other aftermath, but that pile of gift leftovers can choke or even cause internal damage for your pet. Remove the temptation by putting all that gift wrap and other debris in a trash bag as you open gifts. 

Decorations Can Be a Hazard for Pets

Just like that festive tree, your beautiful holiday decorations can be a big hazard for cats or dogs. Holiday decorations mean lights, and these sparkling and flickering beacons will naturally attract your pets. Cats and dogs love to chew. Tape any wires and cords to the wall or cover them with plastic covers to protect your pets from electrocution. Opt for plastic bulbs instead of glass to prevent injury to your pet from broken glass.

Whether you love the cozy atmosphere or the enticing holiday scents, candles are beautiful, warm and potentially dangerous for pets and your family. Scented candles and potpourri will attract pets‘ attention, so keep them out of reach. If you have cats, this will be more of a challenge; decorate with these items sparingly. From getting their noses burned to knocking over candles that can cause a fire, anything that’s hot or has a flame can be dangerous.

Your cat or dog will also take an interest in those new holiday plants you’ve put around the house. Holiday plants can be dangerous for pets causing everything from mild irritation to severe health issues. Poinsettias, mistletoe, holly and other holiday favorites should be kept out of reach. If you suspect your pet has ingested some of these plants and you observe vomiting and diarrhea, it’s time to call the vet. 

Holiday Food and Snacks Can Be Dangerous (and Irresistible)

Even the most well-behaved pets can struggle with keeping their paws off the dinner table and their noses out of all those snacks and deserts lying about. While most pet owners are aware that chocolate can be dangerous for dogs, cookies, eggnog, grapes, raisins, cake and onions are also dangerous for animals. Do your best to keep your pet on their regular diet throughout the holidays to prevent issues. 

You can indulge your pet with special treats made just for them, but keep the people food out of reach. Trays of brownies and other holiday treats should be kept high enough where your guests can reach them, but your pets can’t. Resist the urge to feed your cat or dog scraps from the table or kitchen or they’ll think it’s okay to jump up on the table or even your kitchen counters to get more of those yummy treats. 

The Hidden Dangers of Guests’ Purses, Coats and Belongings

Your pet’s curiosity and the scent of new guests may lead them to root through your guests’ purses, coats and other belongings. This can seem harmless and even humorous, but your dog or cat could find medications, chewing gum and small pieces of candy that could cause illness or present a choking hazard.

Ibuprofen and decongestants, staples for colds and other winter illnesses, are poisonous to pets as well as the xylitol found in most chewing gums. Prepare a space that’s out of the way and inaccessible like a closet or closed-off bedroom to store your guests’ belongings while they’re visiting. 

Follow these holiday safety tips for pets to avoid a range of risks so that you, your guests and your pets can enjoy a festive and safe celebration. You can minimize the risk, but you won’t be able to watch your pet every minute, so be sure to have your veterinarian’s phone number and understand their emergency procedures during the holidays. When the festivities are over and you’re ready to just relax and catch your breath, remember The Maids is standing by to help you clean up the holiday mess. 



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