Playing It Safe

Pet Safety Tips for the Holidays

The holidays are a time for celebration. However, before you start enjoying yourself, first make sure your pets are safe from danger. Keep the following tips in mind to ensure the safety of your pets during the holidays:


• Certain plants, such as mistletoe, poinsettia, and holly, can be poisonous to pets. Be sure to keep these plants well out of the reach of animals in your home, or consider using artificial versions.

• Tinsel, glass ornaments, and garlands can easily attract pets, but are dangerous because they are choking hazards.

• Stringed lights can give your pets a shock should they chew on the wires. Keep decorations out of their reach, or at the very least, spray electrical cords with bitter-apple spray, which pets don’t like.

• Whether using a cut or live tree, keep the water stand covered to prevent accidents as the water for the live tree may contain fertilizers or bacteria. If you use aspirin in the water for your cut tree, this can be toxic to cats.

• Don’t let pine needles accumulate on the floor, as these needles can perforate the intestinal lining of dogs and cats. Additionally, trees should be tethered to a wall or the ceiling to prevent them from falling on pets.

• Do your gift wrapping on an elevated surface, where your pets can’t get into (and consequently eat) string, paper, and ribbons that can cause intestinal blockages.


• Alcoholic beverages, seeds, and pits from many fruits can be toxic to pets if ingested. Also chocolate, walnuts, coffee, tea, and other foods can be harmful to pets.

• Never feed pets leftovers from the dinner table. Items such as chicken bones can easily splinter and choke cats and dogs.

• When cooking dinner for your guests, be sure to move pet birds away from the kitchen area. Fumes released from nonstick cookware and self-cleaning ovens can be deadly to birds.


• The unusual commotion of the holiday season can be stressful on animals as well as humans. Put your pets in a quiet room or quiet area of the house when guests are visiting.

• Soothing music helps not only humans, but animals as well. If possible, put on a nice, relaxing CD to calm your pet.

• Even though we’re all busy around the holidays, don’t forget to give your pets some attention.

• Try to keep your pets on their regular eating and exercise schedules.

• Leave a note on the front door reminding visitors not to allow your pet to run out of the house. Nothing puts a damper on festivities like turning a holiday party into a search party.


• Unless it’s absolutely necessary to travel with your pet, leave them at home. It’s best to find a pet sitter to come to your home to take care of your pets. Post your vet’s phone number in a prominent location, like your refrigerator. This provides easy access to necessary information for your pet sitter, should a problem arise.

• If you must travel with your pet, make certain they are comfortable and you have a small bowl for water. Many accidents happen in cargo areas. If you must fly with your pet, it’s best to have them secured in a carrier, underneath your seat.

• Make sure to be prepared at the airport. Animals traveling in carriers must be removed from those carriers when going through security. Make sure your pet has proper ID and a leash to keep it from running away.

By following these tips, both you and your pet will enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season!


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