As you get grateful and excited for all the holiday season has to offer, don’t forget to think about your furry friends as well. Although the holidays are fun they can sometimes be hectic for pet owners.
It’s easy to become distracted if you’re running out to a party, cooking for 30, or wrapping edible gifts. But caring for your pet and keeping them safe should still be your number one concern.
Continue reading for some tips on pet safety during the holidays.
One way to keep your dog safe during dog holidays is to make sure your pet is wearing their identification tag. If you’re having a holiday party with lots of guests, it’s possible that a door could get left open and your pup decides to dash out. This is especially true if your pup tends to feel nervous around crowds or new people.
Ask your guests to keep doors closed and put your pup in a closed-off area if things are getting hectic. In the event that they do get lost, having an ID tag increases the chances that they’ll be found and returned to you as soon as possible.
One of the most common threats to animal safety during the holidays is all the decor. Let’s talk about garlands and your Christmas tree. First, make sure your tree is safe and secure. If your tree tips, it could injure your dog.
Also, try to replace your tree water regularly and keep it fresh. Standing tree water can become a nasty breeding ground for various types of bacteria. If your dog drinks it, they could become ill.1
Pet holidays are much more fun with a healthy pet, so try to avoid decorating with holly, mistletoe, and garlands. Many holiday plants (including these) are toxic to dogs.2Instead, use artificial plants when you can.
One other decorative safety precaution — ditch the tinsel. You may love to see your tree sparkle, but your pets may see tinsel as a toy. And if they bite at it, they’ll likely swallow it. Nobody wants to end up taking their dog to the vet on Christmas Eve to save them from an obstructed digestive tract.3
Holiday Food Safety: Know What Human Foods Are Safe And Toxic Foods To Avoid
Chocolate — and anything made sweet with xylitol — can be a real problem for your pet’s gut.
Better safe than sorry. Respectfully request that your guests avoid feeding your pet treats and table scraps. Keep holiday foods high enough so your pet can’t get to them. And make sure your garbage is sealed tight once you clear the table.
Also, if you happen to leave bowls of candy out during the holidays, keep them away from your furry companion. It’s best to keep snacks and candy in your cupboards. Take them out only when you intend to serve them and make sure they are out of your pet’s reach.
And if you’re baking, beware. Dark chocolate or baking chocolate can be particularly dangerous for dogs and other pets.4 In the event your pet does consume something dangerous, call your vet immediately. You can also try the ASPCA. The number for the pet poison helpline at Animal Poison Control Center is (888) 426-4435.5
Keeping Your Dog Safe Around Fireworks
Holidays and observances happen year-round, not just in the winter. Independence Day is a particularly stressful holiday for shelter dogs or rescue animals. There is just so much noise and so many people running around. It’s best to keep your dog home when attending a fireworks show.
Noise anxiety is a common problem for dogs.6 If you know your dog gets upset by a loud noise like thunder, talk to your vet about how to help your pet cope with the anxiety they may experience during fireworks.
For most outdoor holidays and parades, you’ll want to try and keep your dog indoors in a safe, quiet space.
You can even flip the radio on before you leave, so your pet has some company. And while you think it might be okay to leave your dog unattended in your yard, think again. When a dog gets scared, they could try to break free or get entangled in their leash, causing injury. There could also be unexpected weather conditions threatening the safety of your pet.
Never leave your dog alone in the car either. Your car can reach temperatures that put your pet at risk of illness or worse — even if it doesn’t feel that hot to you. Also, cracking your car windows doesn’t make much of a difference. It’ll still be too hot for your pup.7
Putting Your Pup First During The Holidays
If you’re planning a party, remember to appreciate your pet. Give them a quiet space to go, but make sure to visit on occasion. Also, try and check that they have fresh water, blankets, and food. Shy dogs may choose to hide away from the roar of the crowd.
You’ll know if your dog is social or not when you go through pet adoption. It’s best to read your dog’s personality and try to accommodate their moods and comforts — especially during the holidays when your routine gets a little crazy.
Whether it’s New Year’s day, Hanukkah, Christmas, or St. Patty’s day — you should always consider your playful pal when making your plans. No matter what month week or year it is, your puppy’s comfort matters. Dog ownership is no joke. Be responsible and kind. And if you realize your dog is hurt or ill, call your vet immediately.
The holidays can be a blast. And you can include your pet in the fun. Just be mindful and keep your best buddy safe. And happy holidays.
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About the author
Dr. Gary Richter, MS, DVM loves animals, and is passionate about keeping them healthy and happy as long as possible. He has received more than 30 awards due to his expertise in the field, and The American Veterinary Medical Foundation recently named Dr. Richter “America’s Favorite Veterinarian.” Dr. Richter has been at the forefront of pet nutrition for two decades, and he is also the author of the bestselling “The Ultimate Pet Health Guide.”