We all know that the holidays are an exciting, but also stressful, part of our year. It can be stressful for our pets as well with more food around than usual, unfamiliar decorations, and new people/faces visiting their home.
It is possible to make the holiday season a happy and safe time for everyone.
There are some things you can do to prevent an unexpected trip to the animal emergency room this year. Let’s keep the holidays happy and safe.
Keep Your Pets Happy
It’s important to keep their schedules as routine as possible and to let them know they’re not forgotten.
Make sure to get your pet gets lots of exercise. They will be less likely to seek out trouble when they are tired. Exercise helps to decrease anxiety so, take them on long walks, play with them, and give them lots of playtime.
If your pet becomes too stressed, confine them to their crate or safe space where they will feel more secure.
Planning noisy festivities like Christmas crackers or popping champagne bottles? Move them to a separate, quiet room immediately.
Rat & Mouse Poison
With the cold temperatures that winter bring rats and mice try to seek shelter in your house. To solve this problem, many people resort to rodenticides, but this is a dangerous choice.
Here at Mason Dixon, we have been seeing an increase in rat poison ingestion cases. While it’s often treatable when caught right away, sometimes the results are tragic.
The best thing to do is to not use rodenticides at all. Although they’re effective, the safety of your pet is more important. Instead, consider using traditional snap traps, or similar devices.
If you decide to use rodenticides, though, there are ways to keep your pets safe. Write down where you’ve laid the traps so that you won’t forget. Regularly check on them to make sure they’re still there. Also check them to make sure they have not been chewed on.
Never put rodenticides in areas of the house where your pet frequents. When storing unused poison, keep it in a secure container high out of reach of your pet.
Many plants that we like to use to decorate our homes for the holidays can be dangerous for our pets.
Poinsettias are red and green plants; perfect for the holidays. However, they’re mildly toxic for pets and will cause irritation around the mouth.
The leaves of Amaryllis are also poisonous when ingested by both pets and humans.
Holly and mistletoes will cause vomiting and diarrhea. The leaves and berries are toxic and can cause breathing problems.
Lilies are incredibly toxic, especially for cats. They can cause extreme damage to kidneys, and in the worst cases, can cause kidney failure. Lilies should never be brought into a home with cats.
Parents often like to make homemade ornaments with their kids this time of year. While this is a great bonding activity, it can be dangerous for your pets.
One of the most common homemade ornaments consists of water, flour, and salt. These are very appetizing for pets. If too much is ingested, it can cause salt poisoning which can lead to seizures.
If you decide to make these ornaments, just keep the ingredients out of reach. The finished ornaments should be hung well up on the tree where your pet can’t reach them.
Any kind of electronic decoration can cause problems if your pet decides to chew on them. Chewed wires can cause electrocution and severe burns. Be careful to conceal any wires that you use for decorations so that your pet cannot get into them.
When you’re not able to hide cords, try wrapping them in materials that are unappealing. Cord covers are a good option as well as tinfoil tape or double-sided tape.
Candles are especially popular this time of year as well, but they can cause burns if you don’t keep them out of reach of your pet. This is especially important if you celebrate Hanukkah. It’s traditional to keep the menorah lit for at least half an hour. The menorah should be monitored at all times when lit to prevent any burns.
Where possible, it’s always a great idea to replace real candles with LED flameless candles.
Cats love to climb trees, even Christmas trees. Ornaments can harm them, and the tree could fall on them.
If possible, keep your tree in a room that you can keep closed off. If that’s not possible, you can place tinfoil around the base of the tree. That will prevent your cat from approaching the tree. You can also tie the top of the tree to the ceiling with a piece of fishing line.
Real trees can also cause a problem for pets that are prone to eating things. The needles are sharp and can be dangerous if ingested. The needles also contain oil which can cause stomach upset. Tin foil should also be placed around the tree stand to deter pets from drinking the water.
Pre-cut trees may contain protective chemicals that can harm your pet.
Sparkly decorations, like tinsel, can cause lots of problems, particularly in cats. Cats are drawn to anything sparkly because they want to play with it.
Ribbons and tinsel are dangerous and shouldn’t be used on trees, presents, or any decoration. They can cause a dangerous obstruction if your cat or dog decides to eat it. Tinsel is even sharp enough that it can cut your pet’s intestinal tract.
Any decorations that consist of string should also be avoided. The string can also cause an obstruction or other gastrointestinal problems.
You’ll also want to avoid ornaments with small, detachable parts or toxic paint.
Snow Globes can be particularly dangerous because they may contain antifreeze. Antifreeze smells sweet, so your pets will want to drink it, but it’s extremely toxic.
The holidays are one of the best times for us to enjoy sweet and fatty foods and these are certainly not good for our pets.
Chocolate can cause stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea in small doses and if ingested in large doses - heart arrythmias and even seizures can develop.
If your pet gets a hold of food with bones, they can cause obstructions and perforations in the intestinal tract.
Nuts, like macadamia and walnuts, are incredibly toxic to pets as well. They can cause vomiting, fever, tremors, weakness and joint stiffness.
Be sure not to leave bags of garbage lying around the house. Take garbage out often and don’t let it overflow.
Always read your pet’s body language to make sure they’re comfortable and not afraid. If they’re becoming nervous and upset, you may need to confine them to a small, quiet room.
Children might not know how to properly interact with your pets. Some may be afraid of pets, or simply haven’t been around them.
Pets have their own personalities, preferences, and limits. They’re not toys, so don’t let children treat them as such. Teaching kids the proper way to interact with your pets can prevent a slew of problems and stop any dog bites from occuring.
Always supervise the interaction, and keep an eye on your pet’s body language. If you notice they’re becoming distressed, remove them from the situation immediately.
Guests may also intentionally leave gates or doors open. Take special care to remind your guests to close openings behind them. Periodically check entrances yourself to ensure they haven’t been left open.
Sometimes guests will also leave their belongings laying around the house. These are very enticing to your pets because they smell differently, and may even smell like other pets. The last thing you want during the holidays is for your pet to eat something out of a guest’s bag.
A good idea is to set a room aside where guests can leave their belongings. Keep this room closed off. This way, your pets, and your guest’s belongings, will stay safe.
Of course, we hope that none of these scenarios happens to you and your pets. But, if they do, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local emergency veterinarian. If you’re concerned, then we’re concerned. It is always better to make sure your pet is okay than to wait it out and wonder.
Most of all, make sure to have a happy and safe holiday season.