The holidays are here, along with many potential pet hazards. As you make your list and check it twice, include strategies to protect your four-legged friend during the holiday craziness. Our Creature Comforts Veterinary Service team offers tips to help keep your furry pal safe this festive season.

#1: Practice pet-safe Christmas tree setup

You can’t bring a large tree into your home and not expect your curious pet to investigate. Strategies to make your Christmas tree pet-safe include:

  • Anchoring the tree — Stabilize your Christmas tree in a sturdy stand and anchor the tree to the ceiling or adjacent wall. This will help prevent your pet from knocking over the tree if they decide to climb the branches or investigate the boughs. 
  • Hanging ornaments wisely — Pets are attracted to shiny objects like ornaments. Hang breakable decorations on high branches so your four-legged friend can’t reach them, and consider leaving the bottom branches ornament-free if your pet can’t resist inspecting the pretty baubles.
  • Forgoing the tinsel — Cats are especially drawn to shimmering tinsel, and if your feline friend ingests a strand, it could cause a linear foreign body obstruction that may require surgery to remove. Skip the tinsel when decorating your Christmas tree to prevent tempting your frisky furry friend.
  • Covering the tree water — The water used to hydrate live trees can contain chemicals and bacteria that may endanger your pet. Keep the tree water covered so your four-legged friend can’t take a sip.
  • Hiding electrical cords — Some pets are prone to chewing electrical cords. Hide these cords or use electrical cord covers to keep your pet from receiving an electric shock or causing a fire hazard.
  • Blocking access to the tree — If your pet can’t leave the tree alone, use baby gates to block their access.

#2: Practice pet-safe gift giving

What pet can resist shiny wrapping paper and pouffy bows? Strategies for pet-safe gift giving include:

  • Forgoing ribbons and string — Like tinsel, ribbons and string can attract curious felines, potentially leading to a linear foreign body obstruction. Forgo these gift wrapping additions when placing presents under the tree. You can always add the accoutrements right before you give the gift.
  • Hanging stockings high — Stockings typically contain pet toxins, such as chocolate, and small objects that can be potential choking hazards or cause a gastrointestinal (GI) obstruction. Hang stockings out of your pet’s reach so they can’t get to them.
  • Securing edible gifts — Your pet’s sniffing skills are excellent, which means they can smell that wrapped edible gift and likely won’t hesitate to eat their way through the wrapping paper to find the yummy treat. Secure edible gifts behind closed doors so as not to tempt your four-legged friend.

#3: Practice pet-safe holiday feasting

The holidays aren’t complete without decadent foods, but the feast can pose many dangers for your four-legged friend. Strategies for pet-safe holiday feasting include:

  • Confining your pet — Confine your pet to their crate or a separate room during food preparation and mealtime to ensure they don’t sneak an off-limits morsel.
  • Notifying your guests — Inform your guests that your pet isn’t allowed table scraps.
  • Securing your garbage — Place trash in closed containers and take filled bags out as soon as possible.
  • Storing leftovers safely — Store leftovers in the refrigerator or behind closed doors so your pet can’t steal a midnight snack.
  • Understanding the hazards — Educate yourself about the holiday feast’s dangers, such as toxins (e.g., chocolate, onions and garlic, raisins, and xylitol), high-fat foods (which can trigger GI upset or pancreatitis), and foreign body ingestion (e.g., bones and plastic wrap).

#4: Practice pet-safe holiday decorating

When decking your halls, remember your pet’s natural curiosity. Strategies for pet-safe holiday decorating include:

  • Using flameless candles — A candle’s flickering flame is beautiful and can make your home smell lovely, but a wayward tail swish or an investigative paw swipe can lead to singed fur or a fire hazard. Opt for flameless candles for a pet-safe holiday.
  • Placing snow globes up high — Some snow globes contain ethylene glycol, which is extremely toxic to pets and can lead to kidney failure. Keep all snow globes out of your pet’s reach.
  • Researching holiday plants — Many holiday plants, such as mistletoe, holly, and lilies, are toxic to pets. Research all plants before bringing them into your home to ensure they are pet-safe.

#5: Practice pet-safe holiday hosting

The holidays are special because you get to spend time with friends and family, but these gatherings can be stressful for your four-legged friend. Strategies for pet-safe holiday hosting include:

  • Identifying your pet — During the holiday havoc, pets can easily sneak out an unmonitored door. Ensure your pet is microchipped and wearing legible identification tags in case they go missing.
  • Providing a pet-safe zone — Designate a quiet area in your home as your pet’s safe zone where they can go to escape if they feel overwhelmed by the holiday hoopla. If your pet is prone to anxiety issues, consider confining them to this area until your guests leave.
  • Seeking veterinary help — If your pet has extreme holiday-associated anxiety, ask our team if they could benefit from a sedative or anti-anxiety medication.

Following these tips should help you have a pet-safe holiday season. Contact our Creature Comforts Veterinary Service team if your pet encounters a holiday hazard or if you think they could benefit from an anti-anxiety medication.