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How Pets Can Have a Joyful and Safe Holiday

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The holidays are filled with family, friends, food, and fun, but they can also pose threats to your pets and cause fear, anxiety, and stress. From poisonous plant decorations to not-so-safe sweets, the holidays can be a challenging time for furry family members. Follow these tips to help your furry friend safely enjoy all the holidays have to offer.

Skip the Sweets. While not all table scraps are bad for pets, (small amounts of lean, plain turkey, and basic mashed potatoes are okay for most), the dessert table should remain off-limits. From chocolate, which is well-known to be dangerous for dogs, to artificial sweeteners, holiday treats are best left for human consumption (in moderation, of course).

Pass on the Poisonous Plants. Although beautiful and festive, many decorative plants can be dangerous and sometimes deadly to pets. Poinsettias are just one example of flora that can cause severe stomach issues for pets. Additionally, mistletoe and holly can create aches, pains, and vomiting if ingested. To keep pets safe, opt for faux plants this year. Silver lining: You don’t have to worry about overwatering.

Set Up a Safe Space. From the guest list to the groceries, hosting a holiday party can be overwhelming — and not just for you. Pets are used to normal, day-to-day activities, so when family and friends begin filtering in and out of your home, pets can become anxious, scared, and protective of their surroundings. Give your pet a familiar space to be alone, such as your bedroom. Set up a comfy spot for them with their favorite toys, blankets, and treats so they feel safe amidst the holiday hustle and bustle.

Over the River and Through the Woods. If your holiday season involves travel, check with your veterinarian to make sure that your pet is up to date on their vaccinations well in advance of any trips or boarding.

Baby, It’s Too Cold Outside. It may seem like a simple solution to put your pet outside during holiday gatherings, but falling temperatures can put your pet’s health at risk. Check the weather forecast before leaving your pet outdoors for too long. Freezing temperatures can lead to circulation issues, frostbite, illness, and even death. Instead, set up a space for them indoors.

Careful Around Candles. Love to adorn your home with festive holiday decorations? Pay special attention to where you put candles, which animals can easily knock over with their long, wagging tails and cause a fire. That goes for fireplaces, too. While they may be warm and cozy, a blazing hearth is no place for pets.

That’s a Wrap. Wrapping gifts can turn into a production. Bows everywhere, ribbons unraveled from the roll, tape pieces stuck to tables, chairs, and couch cushions — it’s a messy job! Be sure to pick up carefully afterward to ensure your pets don’t get curious and chew or eat wrapping accessories that can turn into foreign bodies that require surgical removal. Many products contain harmful chemical adhesives that can hurt your pet’s stomach and cause irritation.

New Year’s Noise. Ringing in the new year can cause quite the commotion. From music to crowds to countdowns and fireworks, it’s safe to say New Year’s Eve is one of the louder holidays. If you’re hosting a party, make sure your pet steers clear of anxiety-inducing noise by keeping them in a safe space away from guests.


This article is brought to you in collaboration with our friends at Elanco.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.
Elanco, and the diagonal bar logo are trademarks of Elanco or its affiliates.  © 2019 Elanco

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