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Bark the Halls - Keeping Your Pets Safe During the Holidays

Turning your living space into a magical winter wonderland is one of the joys of the holidays. However, the trimmings and decorations of the season can present hazards for our furry friends. You don’t have to sacrifice your holiday cheer, but there are some precautions you should take during the holidays to keep your pets safe. Follow these tips below to ensure that the holiday season is safe and enjoyable for the two and four legged members of your family. 


Oh, Christmas Tree. Anyone who has cats knows that your Christmas tree can go from a holiday staple to a living room disaster in under a minute. Cats love to burrow and climb in trees, so naturally when you set one up in your home, they think it’s for them. Not to mention the fact that the tree is decorated with all sorts of shiny new cat toys that are fun to knock down and break. So how do you keep your tree intact? One solution is to set it up in a room that you can keep the cats out of completely. If that isn’t an option, set your tree up in a corner so that you can secure it to the wall. That way, even if the cats climb in it, it will not fall over. While decorating, try to keep the breakable ornaments towards the top of the tree where they’re less likely to get knocked down by curious paws. Be sure not to decorate your tree with anything that could become a health hazard. Avoid tinsel, ribbon, string, or yarn, as these decorations can be fatal to cats and dogs if swallowed.


Merry Mealtime. Holiday get-togethers mean delicious meals and comfort foods. Unfortunately, many of these foods are toxic to dogs and cats. The spirit of Christmas might leave you feeling sympathetic towards your dog’s meaningful look at your plate, but don’t give in. Chocolate, onions, ham, and many other people foods can cause severe discomfort and even illness if ingested for cats and dogs. It’s safer to avoid giving your pet human food altogether. If you are having company over, be sure to set ground rules for interacting with your pets. You might find it beneficial to put your pets in a bedroom during meal time to ensure that no table scraps are scarfed up. A few precautions can help you avoid a costly trip to the ER during the holidays.


Bark The Halls. In addition to the tree, there are other holiday decorations that can present safety hazards. Many favorite plants such as poinsettias, holly, mistletoe, lilies, and Christmas cactus can cause anything from minor irritation to toxicity if ingested. Be sure to check with your veterinarian before bringing plants into your home, and keep the plants out of reach of your pets. Candles bring a warm glow to your home, just be sure that they are out of reach of your pets as they can easily become a fire hazard when lit and if left unattended. Stockings might present a tempting challenge for your dog or cat, so be sure to hang them where they are inaccessible. You can still choose a stocking for your pets - fill it with treats and toys so that your pet can join in on the excitement Christmas morning.


Old Man Winter. Your pet is covered in fur, but is in no way immune to the effects of the winter chill. Depending on the breed and size of the animal, their tolerance towards the cold can be very limited. Know your pet's limits and take precautions during walks. Never leave cats or dogs outside in cold weather, as pets are susceptible to dangers such as frostbite and hypothermia. Be wary of the presence of salt and other chemicals on the roads, and be sure to avoid any areas that you suspect were treated during your walks. Try to get in the habit of wiping down your pet’s paws after a walk. Your short-haired or older pet might find it beneficial to wear a sweater during walks to keep warm.


Additional Safety Notes. Keep an eye on your pets on Christmas morning. The embellishments on your wrapped presents may look like toys to your pet, and it will be hard to focus on what your pets are doing during the excitement of Christmas morning. Small toys and other gifts might also present choking hazards for pets, so be wary of what your pet can get into while you’re unwrapping presents. If you’re traveling with your pets for the holidays, check out this post.


Follow these guidelines and you’ll be sure to have a safe and happy holiday season with your four-legged friends.