The holidays are a time for gathering with friends and family, and this includes our furry companions. It’s important to share these events with them, and to do so safely. Trust me, nothing makes a holiday party turn south like a flaming Christmas tree.
Here are some safety tips for a happy and pet-friendly holiday:
1. Lovely Branches Indeed
Be sure to keep your Christmas tree somewhere safe. Pets are known to knock trees over, so put it in a corner, make sure it is securely anchored, and remove nearby objects to mitigate the damage in case your precautions go out the window (better them than your tree, however).
You even want to block your tree, or move decorations to the upper two thirds, to be on the safe side.
2. Decorations...of Death!
No, I’m not referring to a broken-bulb frustration-induced homicide. I’m talking pet safety here, my friends.
Dogs and cats are attracted to all of the glistening and glowing ornaments, so make sure to be safe with your decoration decisions. Tinsel can cause internal blockages and problems, and glass ornaments are a major cut and chewing hazard. Similarly, holly, poinsettia, and mistletoe are all poisonous to dogs.
3. Stocking Stuffer Only
It’s common knowledge that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but some people have a tendency to relax around this time of year. “It’s the holidays,” they think. Such rationale is irresponsible, and can lead to major complications for your dog. Chocolate should be a stocking stuffer, not a Fido stuffer.
4. Be Careful How Jolly You Get
Whether you’re a nog hog or need something to keep warm on those winter nights, alcohol is a common addition to many a holiday drink. However, one thing you should never mix your booze with is pets. Alcohol is toxic to dogs and cats, so drink responsibly, and pet parent responsibly too.
If you want to party hard with your pets, just crank the classic rock, people.
5. Avoid the Scrap Game
Everyone has their favorite Christmas meals, but this doesn’t mean you should share them with your pets. Many holiday goodies can cause stomach distress for animals, so be careful what you give them. Skinless turkey meat is a good bet, but avoid raw cookie dough, meat with bones, and other items.
6. Get Lit Responsibly
Candles are a common decoration for windows, tables, and other spots around the house. However, they can also be a hazard for creatures made of fur, so use your head when you place them around the house. Keep them out of reach of wagging tails, curious noses, and agile paws.
7. Pets and Parties
Holiday gatherings are cheerful events, but they can also be noisy and disruptive, especially for pets. Properly prepare your guests by letting them know you have a pet, and explain any special rules. It may be safer to keep your animal somewhere quiet for the duration of the festivities.
8. Who invited Uncle Bob, and his dog?
Some of your family members might insist on bringing their pets with them - or they might surprise you when they bring Fluffy in tow. Be sure to introduce pets in a neutral area, if you can, to avoid territorial issues. No one wants to spend Christmas at the veterinarian’s office.
9. Salt Safety
This extends beyond the holidays to winter safety in general. Many types of ice-melt use chemicals which can be harmful to pets. Be sure to clean their paws if you take them for a walk, but also monitor what guests track into your house.
10. Gift from the Heart, but use your Head
If your dog is anything like my dog Sorsha, she deserves a present. Who else is going to bark at the mailman? Your kids?
That being said, make sure to give gifts that are safe. Make sure any edible presents are made with healthy ingredients. Don’t encourage your pets to chew through wrapping paper to get their present. Never give a human toy to a pet, since the materials might be hazardous to animals. For that matter, never give a pet toy to a human, because that is just silly.
11. On the flipside…
In addition to giving gifts to your pet responsibly, be responsible and don’t give a pet as a gift. Pet adoptions tend to skyrocket around the holidays, and this is great if the decision is made by the new owners. However, never assume somebody wants or needs a pet. For their sanity, and the pet’s safety, never give anyone a pet as a gift. Please.
12. Let the Reindeer Reign
Finally, when Santa lands on your house, make sure your dog is restrained. Everyone knows that in the wild, dogs and reindeer are mortal enemies.
Be smart, be safe, and have a great holiday season. Merry Christmas!
Zack and Sorsha