This time of year is filled with activities and events that put you in the holiday spirit, and the last thing you want is a trip to the veterinary emergency hospital. Our All Creatures Animal Hospital team wants to help ensure a sick pet does not spoil your holiday cheer by providing tips to keep them safe during every seasonal situation.
6 TIPS for decorating pet parents
Nothing gets you in the holiday mood like decorating your home for the season, but many decorations are dangerous for pets. Tips to keep your pet safe when decking your halls include:
- Anchor your Christmas tree — Everyone has seen the online videos of pets knocking over the Christmas tree. To protect your pet and your home, secure your tree in a high-quality, sturdy tree stand, and anchor the tree to the wall or ceiling.
- Cover the tree water — Your pet will likely want to drink the water that hydrates your tree, but the water can contain bacteria and additives that can harm pets.
- Hang ornaments strategically — Breakable ornaments can shatter and damage your pet’s mouth or face, so hang them on the higher tree branches, out of your pet’s reach.
- Avoid tinsel — Pets, especially cats, find tinsel intriguing, but if ingested, the sparkly strands can cause a linear gastrointestinal (GI) obstruction that may result in intestinal rupture.
- Cover electrical cords — Many pets enjoy chewing on electrical cords, so cover them to prevent shock and burn injuries.
- Choose pet-friendly decorative plants — Many seasonal plants, such as amaryllis, mistletoe, holly, and poinsettias, used to decorate during the holidays are toxic to pets. Ensure your pet cannot access any pet-toxic plants.
4 TIPS for cooking pet parents
Many holiday dishes, or their ingredients, are dangerous for pets. High-fat foods can trigger pancreatitis, a potentially life-threatening condition, and other foods, such as onions, grapes, macadamia nuts, alcohol, and chocolate are toxic to pets. Keep your pet safe when preparing the holiday feast with these tips:
- Provide pet-safe treats — Find yummy pet-safe recipes, so your pet won’t feel left out when everyone is enjoying the holiday goodies.
- Keep your garbage in sealed containers — Many pets find off-limits treats in the trash. Keep your garbage in sealed containers, so your pet isn’t tempted to dumpster dive.
- Alert your guests — Ensure your guests know that your pet isn’t allowed to eat table scraps.
- Monitor discarded plates — Watch for and remove plates or cups that your guests leave unattended, so your pet does not steal a bite or sip.
5 TIPS for hosting pet parents
The best holiday events are times spent with family and friends, but large gatherings can be stressful for pets. If you are hosting a party, tips to keep your pet safe include:
- Create a pet-safe area — Ensure your pet has access to a comfortable, quiet place where they can escape the crowd, or be sequestered throughout the gathering if they are prone to anxiety issues.
- Microchip your pet — Pets frequently go missing during the holidays, and appropriate identification increases the likelihood that they will be safely returned home. Microchip your pet, and ensure you keep your contact details updated in the microchip registry. Your pet should also wear a well-fitted collar and identification tags with your current contact information.
- Watch the exits — Post signs on your doors to remind yourself and your guests to watch for your pet when entering and leaving the house.
- Secure your guests’ belongings — Many people carry medications or other items, such as xylitol-containing mints or gum, that are toxic to pets. Secure your guests’ belongings where your pet can’t reach them.
- Consult your veterinarian — If your pet gets stressed around crowds or strangers, ask our veterinary team if they would benefit from an anti-anxiety medication or supplement.
6 TIPS for traveling pet parents
If you are traveling for the holidays, tips to keep your pet safe and happy include:
- Introduce your pet sitter — Before leaving your pet behind, introduce your pet sitter, so your pet isn’t frightened by a stranger in their home.
- Schedule a veterinary visit — If you will be traveling with your pet, schedule a wellness visit to ensure they are healthy enough to travel. Depending on where you are traveling, you may need a health certificate signed by your veterinarian.
- Pack for your pet — Ensure your pet has all the necessary supplies, including food and medications, and take a copy of your pet’s medical records in case they require veterinary care while you are traveling.
- Research veterinary clinics — Find veterinary emergency and urgent care facilities along your route and at your final destination, in case your pet experiences a veterinary emergency.
- Restrain your pet — If traveling by car, properly restrain your pet when the vehicle is moving. Small pets should be placed in an appropriately sized carrier on the vehicle floor, and larger pets should be restrained with a well-fitted safety harness.
- Keep your pet in the plane cabin — If traveling by air, ensure your pet can travel with you in the cabin, since the plane’s cargo area isn’t safe for pets.
Whether you are hosting a gathering or traveling for the holidays, these tips should help you keep your pet safe. If you need a health certificate for your holiday travels, or a prescription for an anxiety prone pet, contact our All Creatures Animal Hospital team, so we can ensure your pet is holiday ready.
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