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The holiday season is officially upon us, which means a whirlwind of parties, family gatherings, travel, and food. Lots and lots of food. As we get caught up in the chaos and merriment, it’s important to keep the safety of our pets in mind and remind our guests to do the same. Increased activity in the home can become a source of stress for some pets and an abundance of food, treats, and decorations creates potential risks for our furry friends.

We know you already have a lot to think about during the holidays, but by making yourself aware of potential dangers and planning ahead, you’ll be able to put your mind at ease as you enjoy time with your family. A few quick reminders and tips are all you need to keep your pets safe, healthy, and happy during the holidays.

1. Keep Toxic Foods Out of Reach

We’re all guilty of giving pets tidbits of human food here and there, but some foods can cause issues for our furry friends, including digestive upset or pancreatitis — and in severe cases, even death. Chocolate is probably the most well-known toxin, but here are a few others you should also avoid:

  • Onions and garlic
  • Treats sweetened with sugar or xylitol
  • Fatty, salty and spicy foods
  • Alcohol and caffeinated beverages
  • Grapes, raisins, and certain nuts

When in doubt, it’s best to skip the table scraps. Instead, try picking up a special treat at the pet store or cutting up a few raw, unseasoned fruits or veggies for them to munch on. If you suspect your pet has ingested something, call a pet poison hotline or your nearest emergency veterinary clinic for advice.

2. Avoid Dangerous Décor

No holiday is complete without decorations, but it’s important to make sure you keep the safety of pets in mind as you prepare your home for the festive season. Trees should be firmly secured in a sturdy base so they can’t be easily knocked over. And if you use a live tree, make sure you clean up pine needles daily to prevent accidental ingestion. Ornaments and small decorations can be mistaken as a toy by a curious cat or pup, so make sure you keep breakable ornaments out of reach to prevent injury.

Remember to take caution when wrapping gifts as well. Strings and ribbons can become lodged in the intestines, causing painful (and dangerous) obstructions that may require surgery. Instead, opt for eco-friendly packaging that’s safer for pets — and better for the planet.

3. Candle and Light Safety

Candles play an important role in many holiday traditions, but they become a fire hazard and can cause serious injury to pets if not used properly. Always place candles on a sturdy surface where they’re at less risk of being knocked over, and never leave burning candles unattended.

Ever had a cat chew through the cord to your phone charger? Well, the same thing can happen to strings of lights. Keep cords off the floor, or lightly spritz them with a bit of bitter, non-toxic spray such as Bitter Apple to prevent chewing mishaps (just make sure the lights are unplugged when you do it).

4. Watch Out For Toxic Plants

Plants add a nice touch to holiday décor, especially during the snow-filled months where there isn’t a bit of greenery in sight, but they can pose a danger to your pets. Holly, mistletoe, and pine needles carry varying ranges of toxicity — and be careful with potpourri too.  If you have dogs, you can prevent issues by keeping plants off the floor, but if you have cats, it’s best to keep these items out of your home altogether.

5. Safe Travels

If you plan to take your pets along on your holiday travel adventures, make sure you keep them safe in the vehicle by either using a kennel, pet carrier or car safety harness. And make sure you help them stay comfortable by keeping them hydrated and incorporating plenty of bathroom breaks.

6. Keeping Pets Calm

New surroundings and having a lot of people coming in and out of the house can be stressful for some pets, especially if they are older or not feeling well. Always make sure your pet has a quiet, safe place to retreat to when they are feeling overwhelmed. You can also use a pet gate to close off an area of your home from guests so pets won’t be disturbed. You can also check out these natural remedies to ease their nerves.

Additional Tips

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

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