Set the table. Wrap the presents. Make the centerpiece. Decorate the tree. Cook the meal…
It’s all so busy and exciting—for us and our pets. But with so much going on, a lot of owners don’t realize just how dangerous the holiday season can be for their furry loved ones. Vet visits typically spike around this time of year, and pet safety can often go overlooked in the rush to get organized.
Don’t let an unexpected vet bill ruin your Thanksgiving or Christmas. Keep your pets safe during the holidays by looking out for these common hazards and risks.
Hazardous Holiday Foods: Beware the Puppy Dog Eyes
Thanksgiving and a mountain of food—name a more iconic duo.
But if you love to indulge at this time of year, you should know that all that extra food lying around could be hazardous to your pet’s health.
And there are two food types in particular that can be a real cause for concern should your pet get their paws on them: fatty foods and chocolate.
You don’t have to look far for foods that are high in fat on a typical Thanksgiving menu. Gravy, buttery mashed potatoes, turkey skin, etc. might seem like a harmless addition to your pet’s bowl, but overindulgence of “people” food can, in fact, cause pancreatitis—which is very serious and painful.
If you want to ease holiday stress on pets and keep your pets safe during the holidays, don’t succumb to the temptation to share, and make sure that your guests are well-drilled on the rules. No feeding Fluffy from the table!
Chocolate is everywhere at this time of year. And whether you’re giving or receiving it, the one thing you shouldn’t do is leave it where your pets can get into it. That means no wrapping and placing edible gifts under the Christmas tree, or laying out sweets on a low coffee table.
Consuming chocolate can have serious consequences for your pets. If you’re worried that your dog or cat has eaten chocolate, look out for these telltale signs: increased thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, poor balance, muscle spasms, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
Contact your vet immediately if your pet eats chocolate.
A few other holiday staples to keep well out of reach—paws off!
- Coffee & Tea
- Milk and Dairy
- Macadamia Nuts
- Xylitol (an artificial sweetener that’s toxic to pets)
Always make sure you store food securely and out of reach of pets and children.
Bones are bad too
It might seem natural to give your dog a Thanksgiving turkey bone to gnaw on, but the consequences could be dire. Cooked bones are a big no-no, as they can splinter easily, causing serious harm to your dog’s digestive system.
Can’t say no?
If you just can’t say no to your furry little friend, rustle up some healthy homemade pet treats to keep on the table. Just make sure they’re well-marked, otherwise, your guests could end up munching on some calming CBD dog treats!
Dangerous Holiday Decorations: Look, Don’t Touch
Shiny ornaments and shimmery tinsel can be particularly attractive to playful pets—especially cats and kittens. But they’re also very dangerous.
Many cats love to paw at and nibble on tinsel. And while it isn’t toxic when eaten, the strands of tinsel won’t be digested properly and can cause nasty obstructions in your pet’s system. To avoid this, it’s a good idea to minimize your use of tinsel or skip it altogether.
Ornaments, meanwhile, can be swallowed whole, choked on, or cause cuts to your pet’s mouth and insides when cracked and broken. Try to hang glass ornaments out of reach, and consider using shatterproof or homemade paper decorations instead.
Like the tinsel and ornaments above, twinkly holiday lights will almost certainly catch your pet’s attention. But where your dog or cat is concerned, it’s very much a case of look, don’t touch—or chew!
If your four-legged friend manages to get their teeth into cables, it could lead to serious injury or even death. Before putting lights up, carefully check for any bite marks or frays, and always switch the lights off at the outlet when leaving your pet unattended.
Open flames and candles
Animals will usually keep their distance from fire, but the appealing smells of scented holiday candles might encourage them to get a little closer. And if they do, it could be disastrous.
Not only could they spill hot wax on their fur or burn their skin, but they could also knock the candles over and start a fire. That’s why it’s vital that you take the necessary fire safety measures if you plan on having candles in your home this holiday season.
When it comes to keeping pets safe during holidays, make sure lit candles are kept well out of the way, and don’t leave open flames unattended.
Toxic holiday plants
Another thing pets like to do is investigate new and interesting plants by chewing or eating. This is bad news, however, as many of the plants we like to display at this time of the year are toxic and can cause serious illness.
If you insist on having plants in your home over the holidays, you need to be extra vigilant. Pick up fallen leaves, berries, or needles, and watch out for bite marks.
For a safer environment for your pets, forgo the real Christmas tree in favor of an artificial one, as the needles from pine trees can result in vomiting, lethargy and trembling when consumed.
And as romantic as it is to have mistletoe dotted around your home, you might want to consider a fake alternative. The real stuff can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, hallucinations, erratic behavior, and even death.
If you’re ever unsure about a specific plant, the ASPCA has an in-depth guide to toxic and non-toxic plants.
It’s Not Just Us—Pets Feel Stress During the Holidays Too
There’s so much going on at this time of year. And even if you don’t realize it, that fact won’t be lost on your pet. They’ll sense the stress and notice if their routines become disrupted by visitors, so much so that they can experience feelings of anxiety.
Here’s how to calm a dog down when guests arrive:
- Help them feel comfortable: Make sure there’s a space in your home where your pet can hide. Put their bed and some of their toys there, along with a water bowl and treats, so that they can feel safe and secure.
- Use a crate: If your dog is crate-trained, let him relax there, out of the way. Don’t force him out of the crate, as that could worsen his anxiety levels.
- Make sure they have company: If you have lots of guests over, ask one of them to be on doggy duty to help relieve holiday stress on pets. Having a friend or family member dote on your dog will help keep your pet relaxed and happy.
- Use a ThunderShirt: If your pet regularly experiences stress, invest in a ThunderShirt. This is a pet vest that applies a constant, gentle pressure, similar to swaddling an infant. Works for cats and dogs.
- Use CBD to calm dogs: Help create a relaxed state and boost your animal’s mood with calming CBD for pets. Mix a few drops of a CBD pet tincture into their food, or use some tasty CBD dog treats to possibly help soothe your stressed-out pooch.
Remember: Guests Bring a New Dynamic to the Household
Luggage, medication, strange out-of-town candy—a revolving door of family and friends bring yet more holiday dangers for your pets.
If you have guests coming and going, it could provide ample opportunity for your pet to sneak outside. This will expose them to all sorts of risks, including inclement weather, busy roads, and abduction.
To avoid this, take extra care when answering the door. Place a sign outside asking your guests to knock or ring the doorbell and you’ll come and greet them. You might also consider investing in a baby gate to keep your pet from getting outside.
Once your guests are inside, you need to make sure their medications, supplements (including CBD), vitamins and food are kept well out of reach of pets.
And even though it’s all-too-easy to get swept up in playing the perfect host, try your best not to let catering for your friends and family get in the way of your pet’s routine.
One more thing: Don’t leave your pets alone for too long
If you’re the guest instead of the host this holiday season, you need to make sure you’re providing the right level of care for your pet before you leave home.
Cats need clean litter boxes and plenty of water (and someone to check in on them now and again and top up their food). Dogs need to be left with someone who can give them the same amount of love and attention as you do. Consider using CBD stress relief for dogs to help create a sense of calm in your pup.
Or you could always bring them with you! Just make sure to share this article before you do.
Wishing you and your pets a safe and happy holiday season, from all of us at Healthy Hemp Oil!
How do you pet-proof the holidays? Let us know in the comments below.