5 Ways to Keep Your Pets Safe During the Holidays
From the tree needles and lights to the holiday feast, keep your cat's or dog's wellbeing in mind
Tip #1: Keep kitty out of the tree
An older cat will likely slink past the Christmas tree in typical been-there-done-that feline fashion. But a kitten or younger cat may see that towering pine and attempt to climb it. Try hanging a lemon air freshener among the boughs to deter a kitten from climbing. Anchor the tree to a hook on a nearby wall with fishing line so it doesn’t topple over if a cat climbs it or a dog knocks it. Hang tempting tinsel up high if you use it at all. If swallowed, tinsel can cause a dangerous intestinal blockage in a cat.
Tip #2: Play it safe with tree needles and seasonal plants
Sweep up needles pronto; they can cause stomach problems if a pet eats them. And change the tree water regularly. A dog or cat can become sick from slurping stagnant water.
Place seasonal plants well out of reach of pets or decorate with fake ones instead. Mistletoe is highly toxic to animals if ingested. Many other festive plants, including poinsettias, holly and amaryllis, can bring on vomiting or diarrhea in a pet who samples them.
Tip #3: Watch what food you put out or under the tree
Just because a dog or cat will eat anything doesn’t mean he should. Be careful what you leave out in candy dishes or even wrapped under the tree. If a dog catches a whiff of chocolate and helps himself, he could become very sick or even die.
Also think twice about putting food (popcorn and cranberry strings, gingerbread men) on the tree.
Tip #4: No table scraps, please
The American Veterinary Medical Association cautions pet owners to not give pets table scraps, and also advises not allowing dogs to sit under the table. Fatty fare including poultry skin and gravy can lead to life-threatening conditions such as pancreatitis. A bone can splinter and cause a bowel obstruction.
Make sure guests — especially kids — know not to give your dog or cat any food from the table.
Related: When To Take a Sick Pet to the Vet
Tip #5: Be light bright
A puppy may be tempted to chew electric wires, such as the ones your Christmas tree lights are attached to. According to the ASPCA, wires can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock if your pet decides to nibble. Tuck cords out of sight, coat them in bitter-tasting spray or wrap them in cord covers (available at hardware stores). Since pets may get tangled up in wires and could be strangled, don't put lights on the lower branches.