12 Tips for a Pet-Friendly Holiday Season

Holidays may look a little different in 2020, but the potential pet hazards remain the same. Check these tips to help keep your furry family members safe.

1. Tip-proof your tree.

Cats may try to climb a tree and active dogs can bump into it while playing. Secure your tree to the wall or ceiling with fishing line or wire to keep it from tipping over or being knocked down.

2. Decorate safely.

Make sure any ornaments pets can reach are safe. Choose unbreakable decorations like felt and cloth instead of glass. Avoid ornaments made from salt dough or other food products. Skip tinsel or other dangling décor could be dangerous if swallowed.

3. Watch the water.

Some families add aspirin, sugar or other additives to the water for their tree, to keep it fresh. But pets may see the tree stand as a spare water bowl! Skip the additives if you have pets in the house.

cat laying near tree
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4. Be cautious with cords.

Electric shock is a serious danger for pets, as are mouth burns from chewing on cords. Unplug holiday lights when not in use. Invest in cord protectors to hide the cords away. And, talk with your vet for safe options for repellents to keep pets from chewing on cords if needed.

5. Avoid open flames.

Candles provide great holiday glow, but they can be a danger for curious or rambunctious pets. Consider flameless candles to get the same feeling without the risk. Be careful when using your fireplace as well. Check out these other fire safety tips from our blog.

6. Know your plants.

Most people have heard that poinsettias are irritating for pets, but many more holiday plants pose an even bigger problem. Mistletoe, pine, cedar and holly are just a few significant hazards. Check this ASPCA reference to make sure any plants in your home are safe for your fur family.

dog looking at present
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7. Be careful with packaging.

Gift wrapping, especially with strings or small parts, can be a hazard if eaten. Food packaging and plastic bags can be a serious suffocation danger. Foil wrappers can have dangerous sharp edges when swallowed. Keep an eye on all packaging and wrapped items, and dispose of them properly right after use.

8. Pet foods only!

The safest way to treat your pet is with treats made specifically for them. Chocolate is toxic for dogs and cats. Human leftovers like fatty meats or bones are a hazard, plus foods like raisins, currants, grapes, onions, chives and garlic can be harmful for pets. Check this Banfield post for a list of human foods to avoid.

9. Take out the trash.

From turkey or chicken bones to sparkly giftwrap leftovers, the trash can be really tempting for pets during the holidays – and really dangerous. Tightly secure trash bags and place in a closed container outdoors or locked away from pets.

dogs gathered near tree
Katsiaryna Pakhomava/Shutterstock.com

10. Pick the right presents.

Look for pet toys made of safe, indestructible materials. Stay away from fringe and strings that can be chewed off. Steer clear of fancy wrappings for pets, too, which could be ingested while “opening” their gift. This VCA post offers additional holiday safety tips.

11. Stay warm on strolls.

Staying healthy during the holidays includes getting out for walks. Talk with your vet to understand if your dog is likely to be chilly, which can depend on breed, and get an appropriate coat. Booties help keep paws warm and avoid picking up salt and antifreeze, which are dangerous for pets.

12. Be prepared.

Veterinarians may have special hours over the holidays. Make sure you know how to reach the 24/7 emergency clinic in your area. This Pet Poison Helpline, recommended by VCA, is also a helpful resource to have on hand.

Happy holidays to you and your pets. We hope you have a fun, festive time with your family!

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