House guests, elaborate décor, and delicious treats at every turn make the holidays events to prepare for. While we know that the festive tree is not for climbing and the extra treats are just for people, our pets may think differently. Keep you, your family, and your pets safe this holiday season by being prepared for holiday temptations and new experiences.
Whether you’re traveling with pets, or inviting people into your pets’ home, be prepared for those that aren’t used to sharing space with an exuberant dog or a skittish cat. Consider hiring a pet sitter while you’re away, or giving your pets some people-free space in your home as guests arrive. If your pet seems uncomfortable in a busy holiday situation, let him spend the evening in a safe, quiet area away from the hustle and bustle.
Remember that children may not be familiar with pets—and your pet may not be familiar with children. Kids of all ages can be taught to treat pets with kindness and respect, and likewise, pets should be taught to respect people of any age. But even so, never leave kids, especially if young, and pets alone unsupervised.
With guests coming and going, be sure that all your pets are also wearing identification and that your contact information on their microchip is up to date. Extra visitors coming and going will make it easier for your pet to slip out unnoticed. If you know your pet is an escape artist, kennel or leash them while people come and go to keep them safely indoors.
Holidays mean indulging in some extra treats for many, including our pets. Holiday cookies, pumpkin pies, and roasting turkeys are all opportunities for a counter-raiding dog to steal a new delicacy. While many holiday sweet treats can make your dog sick, some of these treats can even be life threatening. Cooked meat bones can splinter and create choking hazards, and even small amounts of chocolate can kill a dog. Keep food items safely out of reach, and plan some pet-safe treats just for them instead.
A New Look
The holidays also mean a new look about the house—candles, plants, and other decorations can all seem like enticing toys to our four-legged friends.
Don’t assume that a pet will know not to stay away from fire. I once turned to see a cat back away from a candle only after he had singed off all his whiskers on one side of his face. Keep access to fireplaces blocked and candles at a safe distance, where no pets will be able to investigate.
Holiday trees present climbing opportunities for agile cats, new toys for pets willing to pull a shiny bulb off the tree, and an extra water bowl right in the center of all the attention. Trees can be affixed to the ceiling to prevent tipping as an adventurous cat climbs to the top—use some fishing line and no one will even notice. And ornaments can lure in even the best-behaved pets; keep breakable ornaments to the top of the tree. Use ribbon, yarn, or plastic hooks to hang all ornaments—metal hangers can get caught in your pet’s mouth or digestive system, and require emergency veterinary assistance to remove. And pets will likely drink out of a holiday tree watering base, no matter how much you tell them ‘no.’ Keep them safe by not adding chemicals to the tree water.
Keep in mind other holiday plant decorations—mistletoe and poinsettias are toxic to pets. Be sure that they’re safely out of reach, or consider fake alternatives that look just like the real thing.
Decoration outside your home can also create holiday stress for pets. Some dogs are afraid of giant, inflatable yard decorations that they’ll encounter on their daily walks, while others may not enjoy coming across jolly strangers in a big white beard and bright red hat.
Anticipate how your pets will react to new situations and visitors, and do what you can to prepare him for success. Training sessions and his normal routine will go far in assuring him that while this holiday season may be busy and a bit stressful, there’s nothing to fear. He’ll likely enjoy getting to partake in the holiday season with you as well, whether it’s quietly relaxing with you after a long day, or romping around with his new holiday friends.
By Rachel Leisemann Immel
Fluffs of Luv Pet Care offers an array of customized pet care services, including in home pet sitting, dog walking, cat only pet sitting, overnight visits and cat and dog grooming and more. As the most reputable pet sitters and dog walkers in Charlotte and the surrounding area, Fluffs of Luv has put countless clients at ease by caring for their cherished companions while they were away. Give Fluffs of Luv a call for a free in home consultation for pet care or to set up a grooming appointment 704-421-3492 or visit www.fluffsofluv.com.