The holidays can be filled with joy, but they can also be stressful for both you and your pets. Whatever you have on the agenda this season, read on for our tips to keep all your furry friends happy and healthy.
Watch out for these decoration don’ts.
Make sure Christmas trees and other heavy decorations are secured, and always unplug lights when you’re not at home. Skip the tinsel, as many pets are tempted to eat it and it can cause intestinal blockages. Last, avoid putting any additives (such as aspirin) in your Christmas tree water, which pets may drink.
Know your holiday plants.
Amaryllis, poinsettia, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly can all be toxic to pets if eaten. Skip them all together if you have an especially young or curious pet, or keep them off the ground in an area that’s off limits to pets.
Stick to healthy treats.
Cats and dogs may love (and even beg for) table scraps, but the food we eat tends to be too high in sugar, salt, and fat for them. Stick to treats that are meant for pets, or cut up small pieces of these pet-friendly fruits and veggies.
Never feed these foods to pets.
Chocolate, artificial sweeteners, onions, garlic, raisins and grapes, turkey, turkey skin, and yeasted dough can all result in an emergency vet visit. Never feed these foods to pets, and make sure leftovers and trash are kept somewhere secure they can’t get into.
Have your vet and emergency numbers handy.
If your pet does get into food or decorations, it’s always a good idea for everyone in your house to know how to get in touch with your vet and the nearest 24/7 emergency vet. Post these numbers somewhere visible like your fridge, or plug them into the whole family’s phones.
Make time for play and exercise.
Animals get bored, just like we do. And when they get bored, they tend to act out — think accidents in the house or your favorite chair turned into kitty’s scratching post. Although it’s a busy time of year, keeping up with walks for your dogs, and taking even 5-10 minutes to play with pets’ favorite toys each day will keep them happy, and reduce your holiday stress levels to boot.
Consider doggy daycare for active breeds.
If you’ve got an active dog, or a puppy, and you’re totally booked up with holiday parties and other activities, consider shelling out for a few doggy daycare sessions this season. Playing with other dogs all day will help them rest while you’re busy.
Be proactive with guests and visitors.
While you may never dream of feeding your pet from the dinner table, your guests may have different ideas. Make sure you’re up front with people about your house rules, and give them alternatives. “We don’t feed Wolfy from the table — it upsets his stomach — but we keep his treats here, and you can give him a few after dinner.”
Make a spot for anxious animals.
Some pets love visitors, and others get anxious around new people. If you’re pet is the latter, make sure they have a safe place they can retreat, like a crate or a bedroom that’s off-limits to guests. For dogs, add a piece of your clothing that you’ve worn, like an old sweater, so they have something with your scent.
Have a plan if you’re heading out of town.
If you’re going away without your pet, set aside time to have them meet your pet-sitter, or stay for a single night at a kennel if it will be their first time there. Both you and your pet will be less stressed if you practice and get them used to new people and/or places before your big trip.
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