Christmas is a wonderful time to gather with friends and family and create cherished memories. Naturally, you want to include your furry family members, but for them, the holiday season can be alarming and somewhat dangerous. As we bring in a tree, decorate with flashing lights, welcome a multitude of guests, cook delicious feasts, and throw our schedules out the door, your pet may become overwhelmed, and her stress and anxiety may lead to mischief.
Keep your pet’s needs in mind when decorating, planning a get-together, cooking, and traveling to guarantee she remains happy and healthy well into the new year. Whether you’ve celebrated every year with your pet, or this is your first Christmas together, follow our tips to help ensure your holiday festivities and winter activities are stress-free—at least regarding your pet, because we can’t make those kinds of promises about the rest of the family.
#1: Stick to your normal schedule
Holidays are hectic, for pets and people alike. Avoid the upheaval of an irregular schedule to prevent stress. Cats in particular are sensitive to changes in routine, and they can easily suffer from stress-induced urinary issues.
#2: Fill your pet’s stocking with pet-friendly gifts
Pet store shelves will be overflowing with adorable fluffy reindeer, snowmen, and Santas, placed alongside a buffet of brightly colored treats. These winter-themed gifts are designed to appeal to your emotions, but are often shredded as easily as the paper they are wrapped in. Choose Christmas gifts for your pet that will stand up to her chewing, and are free from harmful chemicals, flavorings, and dyes.
#3: Watch where you put your pet’s stocking
Inquisitive cats and dogs may sniff out the goodies in their stockings hanging over the fireplace, enticing them to jump or climb near a blazing fire. Instead of leaving pet treats in reach of an excellent sniffer, hide them safely away.
#4: Enjoy crackling fires safely
Nothing is more comforting on a cold winter evening than the warmth of a roaring fire, which can also draw your pet in close to enjoy the heat. Ensure her safety by keeping the fireplace screen in place to prevent her from curling up too close.
#5: Keep your pet away from winter chemicals
Antifreeze leaked onto the garage floor and ice melt tracked into your home are two hazardous winter-time chemicals that can harm your pet. Keep your furry friend out of the garage when working on your vehicle and invest in pet-friendly sidewalk salt.
#6: Help your pet stay comfortable in the cold
Frigid temperatures can take a toll on a pet’s body, causing joint aches and pains. Bundle up your pet when venturing outdoors, and consider placing a heating pad in her bed for snuggling. Monitor the heating pad to ensure it does not get too hot and burn your pet.
#7: Keep an eye out for unsafe interactions
With family and friends visiting, children and other pets are likely to join the adults in the fun. Your pet may not appreciate her home being invaded by shrieking children and rambunctious dogs, and children do not always know how to properly treat a pet. Monitor interactions closely to avoid altercations.
#8: Make travel plans well in advance
The holiday season is the busiest time of year for boarding facilities, so if you’re planning on traveling but leaving your pet behind, reserve a spot for her well in advance. Check with the boarding facility for required vaccinations and then contact us if your pet needs updating. If you’re traveling with your pet, search for pet-friendly accommodations before hitting the road.
#9: Avoid sharing your holiday feast with your pet
Although avoiding your best friend’s begging gaze is difficult, avoid slipping her morsels from your plate. Turkey skin, ham, garlic mashed potatoes, gravy, bones, pies, candies, and most other holiday foods are off-limits for pets. Stick with treats specifically for pets, or plain rice, white meat, or raw veggies.
#10: Set ground rules with your guests
Many people are animal lovers who can’t resist sneaking pets treats, or forcing their unwanted attention on a shy pet. Separate any potential troublemakers who may not follow the rules by setting up a success station that’s secluded from the party where your pet can relax in peace, untempted by friendly offerings.
#11: Block door-dashers
With all the comings and goings, your pet will have many opportunities to bolt through an open door. Block her access, ensure her microchip registration is up-to-date, and keep her collar with current ID tags on at all times.
#12: Keep your pet out of the kitchen
In your pet’s eyes, the kitchen holds all the magic of the holiday season. Greasy pans, spilled gravy, burnt cookies, and a trash can overflowing with table scraps can lure the most well-mannered of pets, leading to gastrointestinal issues.
#13: Avoid mistletoe, holly, and poinsettias
Although poinsettias are merely irritating and not truly toxic, mistletoe and holly can cause your pet serious medical problems. Stick with artificial greenery and avoid these hazardous plants to keep your pet safe.
#14: Prevent Christmas tree mishaps
While the Christmas tree often claims the center of attention, ensure your pet ignores this delightful indoor elimination station or climbing tower of tinsel. Fragile glass ornaments, tasty popcorn strands, enticing silver tinsel, a wobbly tree stand, prickly fir needles, and chemical-laden water should remind you to place your tree behind a barricade for your pet’s—and your tree’s—safety.
#15: Watch out for wiring and wrapping
Curious pets can fall victim to electrical burns from strands of lights or intestinal obstructions from ribbons and bows. From a pet’s point of view, wires, cords, strings, and garlands are simply fun toys, but they can cause serious harm.
Has your pet gotten wrapped up in trouble this Christmas season? Give us a call and we will help her get back on the nice list.