Top 4 Holiday Hazards for Pets

 In Lists, Pets

With the holidays about to kick into overdrive, it’s a good time for a Christmas pet safety review. As it turns out, many of the things that make this season exciting for us humans—including special foods, festive décor and twinkling lights—can be downright deadly to pets. If you’re a seasoned pet owner, you may already be tuned into many of these potential dangers. But for the folks entering their first holiday season as pet owners, as well as families with little ones who might need gentle reminders, here’s a roundup of the top four holiday hazards for pets.  Discuss them with your crew…and keep those critters safe!

1. Oh, Tannenbaum! Every year, we get a flurry of questions about how to pet-proof your Christmas tree. Holiday trees, garland and other greenery can be incredibly alluring to cats and dogs; beyond the obvious temptation of shiny baubles and dancing ribbons, even plain pine needles can be fatal when ingested. Here are a few simple suggestions to help protect your tree from tackling (and certain YouTube fame):

  • Hang breakable baubles high, beyond your pet’s reach
  • Use a sturdy tree stand that keeps tree water inaccessible
  • Skip the tinsel, edible garlands and any scented ornaments
  • Consider a pet-repellent training mat to discourage exploration

NOTE: Many other traditional holiday plants, including poinsettias, mistletoe and holly, can be highly toxic to pets. If you can’t live without your favorite Christmas flora, it might be time to go faux.

2. Fancy Feast. Not only is your house brimming with good-smelling treats this time of year, these goodies are also more likely to be extra accessible to your pets—placed on countertops, coffee tables and even wrapped, under the tree. Start by keeping any gift-wrapped foods in a closet or on a high shelf. As part of your holiday chocolate safety strategy, it’s best to keep all cocoa-based products stowed safely in cupboards or the fridge…and remember, the darker the chocolate, the deeper the danger.

Likewise, if you’re hosting a holiday buffet, we also recommend keeping your furry family members safely secured in another room, with their own food and drink. Many holiday foods that might not seem to trip any Christmas pet safety alarms, like traditional meats and gravies, can be riddled with tiny bones or diarrhea-inducing fats. You can learn more about common people foods that are toxic to pets here.

3. Bright Lights, Big Kitty. ‘Tis the season for sparkling lights and glowing candles—which means lots of exposed electrical cords and open flames. To prevent your warm holiday ambiance from resulting in injury or [gulp] a visit from your local fire department, Christmas pet safety standards dictate keeping lit candles away from wagging dog tails and curious cat paws; logic might also suggest a flameless solution.

Puppies and kittens can be especially interested in electrical cords, particularly if they’re dangling or attached to something interesting…like your tree lights. As part of your dog-proof Christmas tree plan, consider using safety cord covers for anything outside the boundaries of your pet-repellent accessories.

4. Stress Test. Ever felt just a little extra-stressed during the holidays? Your pet’s probably feeling it, too. Setting aside how much of your anxiety your furry family members might pick up, they’re also dealing with disrupted routines and lots of unfamiliar people and things. Though the dangers of pet anxiety might not seem as deadly as toxic foods and open flames, Christmas pet safety is just as much about helping your fur-folks maintain a healthy state of mind. A few holiday pet stressors to think about:

New People: dog bites are common around the holidays, and kids are the most likely victims. If you’re not confident your guests can follow simple safety rules, sequester your pet in a comfy extra room.

Loud Noises: whether it’s New Year’s eve fireworks or an especially heated game of Cards Against Humanity, many pets are sensitive to loud noises. Your vet can help you create a personalized game plan.

Flight Risk: Full houses and frequently opening doors give your pets both motive and means to make a great escape. Again, the best solution is probably creating a safe, isolated space where your cat or dog can be comfortable, away from the festivities—with food, water, favorite toys and a cozy place to curl up. True story: by the end of the evening, you may just be tempted to curl up with them.

The holidays can be an especially difficult time for our service men and women, both during and after their tours of duty. This post is sponsored by the Call to Duty Alliance, a group of pet product companies and pet-centered organizations, partnered with American Humane, on a mission to reunite retired military working dogs with their human partners.

Numerous studies have shown that veterans suffering from PTSD  are better able to manage their conditions—and have more successful outcomes—when the bond with their canine partner is restored. Each of the six Alliance partners has pledged to donate 10% of the profits from the sales of dedicated products to help bring our canine soldiers home. When holiday shopping for the animal lovers in your life, we hope you’ll consider the following participating Alliance brands:

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

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