Top tips to keep your dog and cat safe during the holidays

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With the holidays right around the corner it is imperative that you keep your fur babies in mind when planning.

The day after holiday’s especially, Thanksgiving and Christmas are notorious for being busy days for emergency veterinarians. By following these simple tips you can avoid adding to that business.

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Plan in advance

While you’re planning your holiday celebrations don’t forget to plan in advance for your pet care.

Hopefully you won’t need to use it, but always have your 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic phone number, address and the fastest route on hand. This will help keep some stress down in case you have to make that trip.

You can download my free pet care tracker here if you would like a place to keep your pets vet information. It is a part of a larger home binder I created to use in my own household.

At the very least you should have the following information on hand:

  • Your veterinarian’s clinic phone number
  • 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic
  • ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435

Halloween

Halloween can be a fun time of the year for families but pretty scary and stressful for pets. Follow these tips to make sure your pets have a safe Halloween.

Hide the treats

Or at least keep them out of reach. If you’re anything like me, you begin purchasing treats early in October as soon as sales start and if you do make sure you stash any pre-preparation candy you purchase somewhere your fur baby won’t be able to get them, like a high cabinet.

Also, if you leave a candy bowl out for trick-or-treaters your dog may think they have hit the jackpot if they stumble upon it so make sure it is somewhere they can not reach it.

Ingredients in candy can be extremely dangerous for dogs and cats, foods like xylitol and chocolate can have deadly effects on pets. Want to learn about other ingredients that can be harmful to your pets read our article about 15 holiday foods that can harm your pet here. But some common harmful foods and materials are:

  • Chocolate: contains a substance that can be toxic for pets
  • Caramel apples: the sticks can be swallowed causing choking or internally damaging organs
  • Foil and plastic wrapping: can cause choking, internal blockage and foil can be extremely sharp and can cause cuts on the gums and intestines
  • Candy: most candy can cause stomach upset and possible vomiting and diarrhea
  • Packaging can cause choking or intestinal blockage

Choose a costume wisely

When choosing your pets costume keep these things in mind

  • Do they like dressing up? If putting clothes on your dog or cat causes undue stress you may want to forgo dressing them up or get them something simple like a bandana, bows, or a bow tie. Always make sure that they can move, see, and breathe normally.
  • Try the costume on before Halloween to give your dog or cat a chance to get used to it and see if they don’t mind wearing it.
  • Is the costume pet friendly? You would think costumes for pets were all safe for pets right? Not always, while most are, you have to take some things into account, especially if you are making your own costume. Make sure the costume doesn’t have any small pieces that can easily be detached or pulled off and eaten, anything dangling from the costume or tight rubber bands that possibly constrict breathing
  • If you have to put the costume on and they aren’t fond of it, snap your photos, and let them take it off.

Ditch the Decorations

Or at least use pet-friendly ones and make sure your fur baby can’t reach them. Pumpkins are pretty much non-toxic to dogs, but if they eat too much it can cause severe stomach upset. Also, decorative corn can cause stomach blockage if the cob is eaten. Keep a close eye on carved jack-o-lanterns that sometimes include candles and can be easily knocked over. Also keep an eye on anything your dog or cat may want to chew on like string or small decorations like stuffed spiders and eyeballs.

Believe it or not, your pet can be just as scared of your decor and creepy costumes as anyone else. If you have a particular decoration that is causing your pet undue stress you may want to ditch it.

Be aware of which decorations may pose the highest threats:

  • Candles: fire hazard and some are toxic to birds if scented
  • Fake blood: possible poisoning if eaten
  • Rubber eyeballs, small buttons, small toys: choking hazards
  • Fake cobwebs: possible choking hazard and small pets or wildlife can become entangled
  • Strung lights: choking hazard and possible entanglement

Keep them away from the door

Opening and closing doors during Halloween is a given, with trick-or-treaters and visitors it can be stressful for pets and give them a great opportunity to brave the outdoors alone.

If your dog is anti-social or goes crazy at the sound of someone at the door consider leaving them in a separate room away from the front door. If you decide to leave them in a another room, place a sign on the door alerting visitors not to enter or let them out. You can also get new treats and toys just for the night that you know your fur baby will love to keep them happy and pre-occupied while in the room.

If you have a camera outside your home keep a close eye out for trick-or-treaters and open the door before they ring the doorbell and cause too much excitement in your dog. Alternatively, you can sit outside if it is a nice night.

Make sure your pet is microchipped and has their ID tags on just in case they do dart out the door.

Keep Your Pet Inside

Don’t leave your dog in the yard or allow your cat to roam free during Halloween, unfortunately, there are people that will see this as an opportunity to do something not so nice to animals, especially black cats

Also don’t leave them in the car while you are trick-or-treating

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for friends, family, and festivities but you won’t be very thankful if you have to spend the day in the emergency room with your pet! Some disasters can be easily avoided by following these tips

No table food

Refrain from feeding your pet table food and let any guests know not to do so as well.

If they must have a piece of turkey make sure it is a small boneless piece without skin. Turkey and chicken skin are the fattiest part of the birds and feeding fatty foods could cause acute pancreatitis which can be a serious life-long condition.

Don’t feed any bones, this can cause gastric upset, blockage and possible puncture

If you want to make a special Thanksgiving dinner for you pet, boil the turkey beforehand and feed them when everyone else is eating. You can also include veggies, pumpkin, or a small amount of mashed potatoes without any seasonings like salt or garlic mixed into their regular food.

Also, watch out for possible raw food that may fall on the floor when cooking. Raw or undercooked food especially turkey or anything with eggs may contain salmonella. In addition, raw yeast bread dough can cause bloating and is a life-threatening emergency that usually requires hospitalization.

Dispose of turkey brine properly, if your pet gets a hold of it, it can result in salt toxicosis. Clinical signs of salt toxicosis are excessive thirst, vomiting, urination, and diarrhea.

Keep your pets preoccupied during mealtime by giving them a chew toy that will keep them busy, like a peanut butter filled kong for dogs or a catnip filled toy for cats.

For a more in depth look at pancreatitis and keeping your pet safe during the holidays, check out my article: Pancreatitis in pets, getting through the holidays


15 Holiday Foods that can harm your pet … Read Now


Table decorations

Usually, decorating the table comes along with Thanksgiving but be aware of these things

  • Low hanging tablecloths: if your dog is smart they will realize they only have to tug on it to bring food tumbling down
  • Flowers: some flowers are poisonous to pets so keep them away, for example, lilies can cause acute renal failure in cats and bittersweet vines can cause weakness, vomiting and seizures.
  • Candles: for obvious reasons, they are fire hazards
  • Pumpkins: While safe for dogs if eaten while fresh and in small quantities, pumpkins that have sat out for a while may cause upset stomach

Christmas

Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year for many, so make sure it is by following these tips

Oh Christmas tree

Always keep a close eye on your dog or cat when they are around the tree, better yet put your tree in a room that you can close off if need be. You can also create a barrier around the tree, but this often does little to deter a curious kitten or pup.

Many cats attempt to jump into the tree which can have all types of repercussions, mainly the tree and all of its beautiful ornaments tumbling down! Make sure to anchor the tree to make it secure.

If you have a living tree make sure your dog or cat does not drink the water as sometimes the sap can be toxic to pets. In addition, many fresh trees are sprayed with pesticides, fertilizers, and preservatives, and aspirin added to the water, which can be fatal to cats and cause an upset stomach in dogs.

Tips to pet-proof your Christmas tree

  • Make sure electric cords are up and out of the way
  • Secure the tree to the floor with weights so that it doesn’t tip over if bumped or climbed
  • Place smaller ornaments towards the top of the tree
  • Have a wire from the ceiling to the top of the tree to help secure it
  • Cover Christmas tree water so your pet won’t get in it
  • Don’t add anything to the Christmas tree water like sugar or aspirin to try and prolong its life
  • Avoid angel hair, which is made of glass fiber that can cut a dog’s digestive tract
  • Place a fence or gate around the tree to deter your curious pet from poking around it
  • Don’t use tinsel if your cat likes to chew on it
  • Don’t use string to wrap your presents, cats will likely find it and can ingest it causing a severe linear foreign body
  • If you get a live tree keep the area around the tree clear of pine needles which can cause stomach upset and intestinal perforation if ingested

Christmas decorations

Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when decorating for Christmas

  • Tinsel: Some cats are extremely attracted to tinsel which can cause a potential risk of linear foreign body obstruction.
  • Small decorations: If your pet ingests small decorations such as small Christmas tree ornaments this can lead to intestinal obstruction and may call for surgical removal
  • Christmas tree lights: Many pets have seen their day at the vets because they chewed on Christmas tree light wires. These pose the threat of electrocution
  • If you must use candles use battery-operated LED candles
  • Flowers: many flowers are poisonous to animals including holly, mistletoe, Christmas cactus, and poinsettias can cause severe reactions in some pets and mild gi upset in others.
  • While we see cute little Christmas ornaments, your pet may see their new toy. Chewing on ornaments can cause cuts in the mouth and stomach if eaten. This can cause bloody stool and usually a subsequent trip to the vets. If your pet chews on an ornament and it gets lodged in the intestines it is a good chance they will need surgery to remove it.

New Years

The new year often brings about parties, fireworks, and celebrations which means noise! Many of our pet’s are afraid of the loud noises that come with holiday celebrations so to keep them safe follow these tips

  • If they get apprehensive during gatherings, consider keeping them in a quiet, separate room where they have lots of things to play with and chew on
  • Make sure your pet has been microchipped and that they are wearing their Pet id in case they escape out of an open door
  • Let your guests know that you have a dog or cat and that they should refrain from feeding them, keeping the door open, or any other house rules
  • If your dog is apprehensive about loud noises like poppers and fireworks try something that will help soothe them like a thunder shirt, CBD for animals, or a mild sedative prescribed by your veterinarian. You can also keep them in a ‘quiet’ room with all the windows closed and curtains that will help muffle the sounds. Also leaving the radio or television on may help distract them from any outside noises as well.
  • Alcohol is usually flowing during New Years but make sure your pet isn’t partaking as it can have deadly consequences

Valentines Day

Valentines Day is a holiday meant for love and chocolates. As stated before many ingredients in our candies and cakes can be detrimental to our pets so make sure you keep them out of reach of your fur babies.

General Tips

Houseguest

  • Keep houseguests belongings out of reach. If your houseguests have things like purses and suitcases keep them out of reach of nosey pets as they can get easily get into things like medications, gum (which can contain xylitol), and candy
  • Let your houseguests know that they are not to feed your pets any table food

Scents

Some scents are poisonous to cats, dogs, and birds. Liquid potpourri, some candles, air fresheners, and essential oils can cause severe harm to your pets so make sure your scents are pet friendly prior to use

Travel

Boarding your pet

If you have plans to travel during the holidays and leave your fur baby at home make sure you board them or have a dedicated pet sitter that will either stay at your house or be able to drop by frequently to care for your pet.

If you board, visit the location prior to leaving your pet, check reviews, and check out more than one place to determine which would best suit your fur baby.

Make sure you have all of your necessary vaccinations at least two weeks prior to your pets stay, as some boarding facilities will want the shots in their systems well in advance.

Bring your pets food with you to the boarding facility. While many have foods available, it probably will not be the food your pet is used to and this will certainly cause upset stomach

Traveling with your pet

If you are traveling with them make sure you pack enough supplies and have a designated doggy bag (or cat bag) with all of their items inside like the one’s below. Always remember to bring a little extra food for your trip as well!

Call the airlines you are flying to double-check the vaccinations you will need to travel with your dog and ensure that your dog, if small enough to fit under the seat, is in the correct carry-on size bag.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

We need to hear from you, take some time to let people know how you are preparing your pets for the holidays in the comments

I partnered with other bloggers to bring you the best care for your pets this holiday! Check them out if you want a fun and safe holiday season for your pets

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