Heartland Animal Hospital Blog
When you see the holiday through your pet’s eyes, the big guy in the red suit may seem kind of frightening. And that’s not all - the home filled with scents of tasty but possibly unhealthy and dangerous foods, the noise of the door opening and closing as guests arrive makes their hearts race, strangers scare them, and ornaments look an awful lot like toys. Plus there’s the tree - which looks like an indoor bathroom to your dog.
The holidays bring cheers, friends, family, and our favorite holiday dishes! If you’re beginning to plan for the upcoming holiday season, keep your pet friends in mind as the excitement approaches. We’re not suggesting you add your cat or dog to Santa’s Good Boys and Good Girls list, but to make sure their holidays are happy, healthy, safe and as stress free as possible.
You don’t need to wind up with the long side of a wishbone to help keep the holiday season safe for your pet. Just consider the world through your pet’s eyes.
The Holiday Through Your Pet’s Eyes: Tips for a Festive and Safe Holiday Season
1. Who Are All These People? Guests, Noise, and a Change in Routine
When we’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner or another holiday event, it’s natural to get a little stressed out, but don’t forget that our pets don’t really understand the occasion. They do know that there’s a lot more hustle, bustle, noise, and strangers - and that you’re stressed and anxious.
To top it off, most pets feel a bit off when their routines change.
To help ease your nervous pet’s anxiety:
- Use a pheromone spray or diffuser to help keep her calm. Feliway works well for cats and Adaptil for dogs.
- Create a little holiday sanctuary in a quiet room away from the chaos. Include comfy blankets, calming music, and dim lighting.
- Board pets that would be better off avoiding the stress.
- Help your dog or cat get plenty of attention, mental stimulation, and exercise before the festivities begin.
- Keep your schedule as normal as possible.
2. Turkey, Ham, Cranberries, and Yams! Yum: How to Handle Table Scraps
Very few pets politely decline table scraps. Additionally, those adorable puppy eyes and kitty whiskers combined with the delight of the holidays tend to convince guests that our pets need a nibble of their dinners. As you probably guessed, this isn’t the best.
Politely ask guests to gift your pet with an approved treat or just some extra lovin’. You can even cut down larger treats to help ‘cut back’ on the calories if your pet is on the portly side.
When it comes to table scraps and handouts, it’s best to just say “no.” These tasty treats can cause your pet to get sick, and the last thing you want is to clean up diarrhea, vomit, or rush your pet to the emergency vet.
3. It’s So Much Fun to Explore Guests’ Belongings! Keep Nosy Pets Out of Baggage and Other Belongings
From purses flung over chairs to toiletry bags, it’s best to have a plan for your friends’ and family’s belongings. Medication, dental products, and gum often contain xylitol (or alcohol sugar) which is toxic to pets. Just a small amount of xylitol can send your pet into diabetic shock or coma.
If you can keep purses and coats in a closet, you can keep nosy and curious pets out of trouble. Make sure to remind houseguests to keep their door closed and suitcases out of reach of your pet.
4. Fire, Fire Burning Bright! Flames Aren’t Fun for Pets
Most pets are naturally very curious about the warm glow of candles and fire. During the holidays, we see kitties with scorched noses and puppers with burnt paws.
Keep your pet safe by keeping the fireplace screen up, and make sure to keep an eye on her when your fireplace is lit. If you want to fill your home with the warm glow of candlelight, keep candles on high shelves and extinguish the flame when you leave the room. Non-flame candles make a wonderful alternative.
5. Shiny Décor and More! Don’t Let Your Pet Get Tangled in Tinsel
They’re shiny, fuzzy, and make fun noises! As you hand out the (toxic!) mistletoe, jingle bells, and ornaments, notice how similar they look to toys through the eyes of your pet.
Don’t let your pet get wrapped up in trouble.
- Tinsel is a no-go for cats. They like to ingest it.
- Avoid edible garland like popcorn strings.
- Pickup any ornament hangers that you don’t use.
- Don’t allow your pet to play around the tree, especially unsupervised.
- Keep toxic plants like mistletoe and poinsettias away from your pets.
Happy Howlidays from Us to You and Your Family!
We hope this holiday season is filled with warmth, love, and relaxation. From turkey to New Years’, peace on Earth for your pets is possible if you see the world through their eyes, plan, and prepare with plenty of time to spare.
Share the gift of good health with your pet and bring her in for an appointment. We can help her manage holiday stress if she suffers from anxiety, and help you determine if your decor is dangerous or even toxic to your pet.
Image credit: AnatolyTiplyashin / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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