How to Keep Your Pet Safe Through the Insanity of the Holidays
During the holidays one of the most important things that you can do is to keep your pets safe and comfortable. Animals become accustomed to routine and holidays disturb that routine with their constantly changing parties, visitors, and modifications to the decoration of the home. While your vet can give you specific instructions regarding ways to keep your particular pet happy and healthy during holidays, here are a few suggestions that will help all of your family members get through the insanity of holiday season.
It is traditional with many holidays such as Christmas and Easter to have fresh flowers available in the home. Flowers such as poinsettias and lilies can be toxic to humans and animals. While it is unusual for animals to seek out and consume these flowers, a curious pet may be inclined to taste them or play with them and accidentally ingest parts of the plant. Rather, both cats and dogs are very curious and with their uncanny ability to get into areas that we would not otherwise think they could, it is a good idea to keep holiday plants well out of reach from our furry family members. An even better option would be to utilize faux flowers in place of real ones. High-end silk flowers look remarkably similar to real plants, are not toxic, and can be used year after year. If real flowers are placed in the home, be sure to consult with your veterinarian to see if a particular holiday plant is toxic to your pets.
In addition to new plants coming into the home, the holidays are a time in which people, many of them unfamiliar to your pet, visit your home. Unless your pet is a real people pleaser, or used to a lot of traffic, is a good idea to keep them secured in a bedroom or otherwise away from the guest. This is for the benefit of the pet, as well as the guest as no one looks favorably on a barking dog or hissing cat. Also, keeping your pet separate from your guest will ensure that they are not given foods they cannot eat and cannot slip out the door as people are coming and going.
In addition to the dangers from strange plants and people, your pet might be tempted to take a drink of whatever you or your guest may be drinking. Animals and alcohol not mix well so be sure to make certain that your pets stays well away from the punch bowl at the New Year’s Eve celebration. Additionally, because some people find it amusing to play tricks on otherwise unsuspecting animals, make sure that your pets water bowl is in a safe place so the tipsy party goer will not be able to spike it with a clear alcohol. While it may be funny to watch your dog stagger through the house, it could be harmful to them as they cannot process alcohol in the same way that you can.
Animals, especially cats, are attracted to open flames. While they find the dancing flames mesmerizing, it is doubtful you would be so amused when your pet catches their hair on fire or knocks the candle over and spills wax on the floor. Worse, your pet can overturn candles, and possibly burn down the house. Along with the candles, during holidays there are often an abundance of electrical cords and lights. Dogs and cats both find electrical cords extremely amusing to play with. So be sure that they are kept tucked away as much as possible so that one of your furry family members does not manage damage the cord and electrocuted themselves.
If at all possible, utilize the services of someone with whom your pet is already familiar. This may be a near relative, friend, or neighbor, but if the pet is familiar with the person, both parties will be more relaxed, and you’ll be less likely to receive a frantic phone call on your trip. If your trip is longer than a day or two, try to have someone stay at your home, at least a night or so. This will provide more comfort for your pet as well as be a deterrent for the thieves that seem to be abundant during holiday times.
Before you depart for your trip, make sure that you leave an information sheet or checklist for your pet sitter. Make sure that the sitter knows your pets names, their medications, any special dietary considerations. Make sure they know what foods can and cannot be given to the pet as well as any toys that the pet may have a particular affinity for. Be sure to leave your contact information as well as that of the vet. Make sure that your pet’s food and other supplies are readily available to the pet sitter. If you’ll be gone for an extended period of time, also leave some money, should the pet sitter need to purchase additional food or litter.
Holidays are enjoyable time of year. They are a time to reconnect with friends and family and to celebrate shared beliefs. These times are just as important to our pets, and we need to consider their health and safety as we plan our own holiday activities.