With all the food and festivities, keeping Fluffy or Fido safe during the holidays can be a challenge. But furry family members will be just fine with some simple precautions from their owners.
Director of pet care issues at the Humane Society of the United States, KC Theisen says bowls of candy or snacks that are left sitting out can cause health issues for pets, “Chocolate is a well-known toxin to dogs and to cats. Some nuts are also not healthy for pets to eat, especially if they get a large number of them. It’s best to keep all of those dishes, all those snack trays, kind of above ‘nose level.'”
She says plants also need to be kept out of reach because, if consumed, poinsettias, mistletoe and holly all can be poisonous to pets, or at least cause stomach upset. Pets also can be curious about decorations, so Theisen recommends securely anchoring the Christmas tree and keeping all breakable ornaments, tinsel and garland out of reach.
A houseful of guests not only can cause anxiety for the host but also for some pets. Theisen advises owners to consider their pet’s individual personality when deciding whether or how long to allow them to mingle with guests, “If they’re a social butterfly and they love to see people, and they can stay calm around a large crowd – excellent, they might enjoy the festivities. But a lot of pets feel more confident if they have a safe place to retreat to.”
And before putting your pet outside for an extended period of time, Theisen says keep the weather and temperature in mind. Although cats and dogs do have fur coats, she says leaving them outdoors when it’s freezing can put them at risk of hypothermia or frostbite, “It’s really important to remember that their noses are naked, their ears are mostly naked, and the bottom of their feet that touches the pavement – are naked! So, we have to be extremely careful.”
For those who are taking their cat or dog along for holiday travel, Theisen says it’s a good idea to double up on tags and collars so if a mishap occurs, their pet can be located as quickly as possible.