Whether you’re hosting a huge Thanksgiving dinner or plan to spend New Years Eve cuddled up inside this year, your home is likely to be the setting of at least some of your holiday plans. You might be thinking about how to maximize your hosting capabilities to please the humans entering your space, but you shouldn’t forget your pets this season, either. Their comfort and safety is important, but the holiday season can be rough for them. Here are a few seasonal pet safety tips beyond the basics you already know, like keeping them away from your burning candles.
Holiday decor can be a danger to pets
Videos of cats climbing Christmas trees are funny—until they’re not. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but some holiday decor is more perilous to your pets than others.
According to the ASPCA, the first thing to do is to make sure your tree is anchored down well so it doesn’t topple over if your cat decides to climb it or your dog gets the nighttime crazies and runs into it. If that seems like kind of a given, this part isn’t: Reconsider that water base keeping your tree fresh. It can contain fertilizer or chemicals that can be harmful if your pet drinks from it. Stagnant tree water can also breed bacteria, which can give your pet nausea or diarrhea. Neither your pet nor your guests will love that.
Tinsel, too, is a risk, especially to cats, who love batting it around and nibbling on it. Swallowing tinsel can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, vomiting, dehydration, or maybe even surgery.
Keep light wires well out of pets’ reach, too, as they can shock any animal that chews on them. If you don’t favor the plug-in kind, know that punctured batteries can burn their mouths and esophaguses.
Finally, if you have a fireplace and a dog, be wary of firestarter logs, says the Humane Society. Those can contain sawdust and paraffin, which could irritate doggie stomachs or even cause an intestinal blockage if eaten. Here’s a helpful guide for finding good, pet-safe firewood.
Holiday food your pets should never eat
You probably already try to curb your dog’s begging at dinnertime, but the holidays season involves a lot of food, most of which you don’t get all year round, to say nothing of your hungry pooch. Per the Humane Society, resist the urge to throw your dog a literal bone from your holiday ham or turkey. It might seem harmless, but when chewed, bones can splinter and put your pet at risk of choking or suffering an intestinal injury.
Here are a few other holiday foods you might not know your dog shouldn’t consume:
- Anything with citric acid or a pit
- Leaves and stems
- Onions (including flakes and powder)
If you’re planning on doing the Feast of the Seven Fishes this year, keep your dog in another room and don’t feed them anything from the big meal. It’s not worth the risk.
Nibbling on the Christmas tree can be a bad idea for a pet, as they may consume needles that can cause a—you guessed it—an intestinal obstruction, says the Humane Society. The needles can puncture the intestinal lining or bunch together in there and cause a blockage, neither of which is pleasant and both of which can be very dangerous. You can sidestep this risk by getting a fake tree or not allowing your pet anywhere near your real one.
The ASPCA also points out that if your pet eats holly, they can become nauseous, vomit, or have diarrhea. Mistletoe can lead to gastrointestinal upset or even cardiovascular problems. Finally, lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested.