Holiday Survival Guide
by Chelsea Pennington, Bark + Boarding Writer and Animal Enthusiast
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for us humans, but when some of our favorite holiday decorations and traditions can be dangerous or even deadly for pets, it’s important to be vigilant about ways in which you can keep your dog or cat safe.
To help, we’ve got a handy holiday survival guide so your Christmas festivities don’t include an emergency trip to the vet!
O Christmas Tree
Be sure to anchor your tree securely so it doesn’t fall on your pet (or your family!).
If you’re buying a live tree, don’t allow your pet to drink the water in the tree stand. Additives like fertilizer, sugar, aspirin and others can be toxic for pets, and the stagnant water is a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause your pet to get sick.
Pine needles can also injure your animal’s digestive tract if consumed, so be sure to vacuum the area around your tree regularly. Stay away from edible decorations like popcorn chains or cookie ornaments, as these will likely prove too enticing for your pet to ignore.
When you’re not around, unplug the lights, as many dogs and cats like to chew on these wires, and, if turned on, this can cause burns or even electric shocks.
To help prevent ornaments from breaking, set up your Christmas tree but wait to decorate it for a few days. This will help your pet adjust to the strange new object in the house, so, hopefully, by the time you add ornaments their curiosity will have worn off.
If you have a particularly determined cat, place aluminum foil on the floor around the tree to give you warning of a potential disaster.
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Other holiday decorations can be harmful for your pet as well. Tinsel can add some shimmer to your holidays, but if ingested by a pet it will often lead to a blockage in the digestive tract, which often requires surgical intervention.
Plants like mistletoe, holly and poinsettias are toxic for pets to consume. Keep these well out of reach, or consider buying artificial alternatives to be on the safe side.
Candles, whether they’re holiday-scented or atop a menorah, require extra supervision with pets around. Never leave them unattended and always place them far out of reach of any curious paws or wagging tails. This will prevent your pet from being burned, or even causing a fire.
I’ll Be Home For Christmas
If you have guests coming over for the holidays or if you’re traveling yourself, it’s important to ensure your pet stays safe and comfortable.
If you’re playing host to guests, be sure your furry friend has a quiet place to retreat to if they get overwhelmed. Make sure your pet has updated information on their collar or microchip and that they’re wearing the collar at all times, since the opportunities for them to escape increase with extra people coming and going.
If any guests ask to bring pets of their own that you don’t already know will get along with your pet, either respectfully decline or arrange to spend some time together before the holidays allowing your pets to get to know each other.
If you’re traveling, be sure to know how to keep your pet safe and cared for, whether you’re bringing them on a road trip or on an airplane. If you don’t want to travel with your pet or want to make sure they’re out of harm’s way when you have people over, bringing them to a safe and secure boarding facility is a great way to make sure they stay safe, have fun and save you from stress.
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
If the unexpected and unthinkable happens, make sure you’re prepared to get your pet the help they need. Talk to your vet ahead of time to know where you will need to take your pet in case of an emergency, and know your travel route to get there so you’re not trying to navigate while stressed.
It’s important to have your vet’s clinic phone number, a 24/7 emergency vet number (if different), and the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (1-888-426-4435, a fee may apply) handy in case you need them.