With the long holiday season just around the corner, it’s a good idea to refresh your knowledge of the holiday dos and don’ts when it comes to pet safety. Whether you’re inviting people over or traveling with your pet, read on and make sure your furry friends stay healthy and safe.
Make it easy to find your pet if it gets lost
Check that your pet is wearing a collar with a tag and that your contact information on the tag is up-to-date. You can have your pet wear a GPS tracker tag too but remember that they don’t usually allow for precise location tracking. It will still take time to find your pet if it escaped, so prevention is important. If you’re having guests over, ask them (or your pet/house sitter if you’re going away) to not leave any windows and doors open and unsupervised.
Make sure your pet is generally healthy
If your pet is microchipped, check and update that information timely. It’s a good idea to schedule an annual checkup with your vet around this time, to ensure your pet is healthy. You can also have vaccinations or small procedures done before the holiday rush sets in. Ask your vet how you can get in touch in case of an emergency during the holidays. Keep handy the phone number of your vet and a couple of emergency vet clinics in your area.
Travel safely with your pet
Use a collar and leash or a more secure harness, or opt for a proper pet carrier. A pet car seat can help keep your furry friends happy during long car rides.
Keep your pet’s routine stable
To reduce holiday stress and make their routine more predictable, do your best to feed and take your pets out for walks at regular times. Offer plenty of playtime and exercise to strengthen your bond, so that they are more obedient when you ask them to comply with commands. Give them something to do, a durable chew toy to play with, or a plush friend to cuddle while you’re busy cooking and entertaining guests.
Define your kitchen rules
If you’ll be spending a lot of time cooking and eating, plan for that in advance. Ideally, keep your pets out of the kitchen when you cook. Raw food lying around is a big attraction for a hungry pet. Your pet might find lots of unsafeutensils and appliances exciting if they’re bored and have nothing to do but check on you being busy in the kitchen. Ask another family member to occupy the pets, hire a neighbor’s teenage kid to take your pet out for a walk for a couple of hours, or make sure you’ve done your best to tire your pet with exercise and play before you get to cooking.
Know what foods you can feed to your pets
Don’t feed your pets table scraps, and ask your guests not to. While every pet appreciates a yummy treat, don’t overfeed them. Make sure that you know which foods are unsafe and should not be given to your pets. Turkey bones, skin and gravy, chocolate, and raisins are some better-known foods to avoid, check the full list of Thanksgiving and Christmas foods that are dangerous for cats and dogs. Make sure that alcohol is put away where they cannot reach it. Keep all of the meals that are ready to be served out of their reach too. You don’t want to start over on that gorgeous layered salad if your pet accidentally turns over the plate. Take out the trash timely before the trash cans overflow and your pet can pick up any scraps.
Certain decorative plants that appear in our houses around fall and wintertime can be toxic to pets. Other elements of décor, such as candles or ornaments that can be chewed are best kept at a safe level above the floor where your pets cannot reach (although some will still get creative and try). If your pet is going to wear a costume, make sure it’s comfortable. Avoid any costume details that might wrap around your pet, trap them, or limit their movement, especially during potty time so that you can avoid accidents indoors.
Give your pet a hiding place
Provide a place away from the noise of the crowd that your pet can escape to if they feel overwhelmed. Set up their bed, some toys and treats for them to take a break when they need it. Once they’ve had some quiet time, it’ll be easier for them to come out and enjoy the holiday cheer with you.