Tips to enjoy a happy, healthy and safe holiday with companion animals

Now that the holidays are here people will be spending more time indoors entertaining. Residents may want to include their pets in the merrymaking but that could mean trouble without a few elementary precautions. The holidays can be merry and bright for our four legged friends by following some simple tips.

Holiday Pet Behavior

  •  Pay attention to your companion animal. Pets are often ignored in the rush and excitement of the holidays. This can lead to mischief.
  •  Unsure about how your pet will react to all the new faces in the house? Create a safe, comfortable place for your pet to relax. Make sure you put out plenty of fresh food, water and toys.
  •  Play with your dog or cat at least twice a day for twenty minutes. A tired pet is less likely to make a mess or do something “off limits.”
  •   Use baby gates to cut off access to “restricted” areas.
  •  Let your pet enjoy the holidays too with some new toys or treats.

Common Food Dangers

  • Holiday goodies should be kept away from your pet. Chocolate and raisins can actually be fatal to many animals.
  •           It may be tempting but don’t give your pet food off of the table. Holiday foods can be hard on your animal’s stomach and may lead to diarrhea and vomiting. Candies and gums with the artificial sweetener Xylitol can also be toxic to pets.
  • Remember, poultry bones are a choking hazard and they can splinter.
  • Giving alcohol to a pet--even a sip or two--is dangerous and could be fatal.
  • Common holiday plants like lilies, mistletoe and holly berries are very poisonous to pets. Poinsettias are actually not as toxic but could cause stomach distress if ingested.
  • Ribbon, candles, aluminum foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be a choking hazard and cause intestinal blockage if swallowed.
  • Christmas tree water could contain fertilizers. Keep your pet away.
  • If you suspect your animal may have ingested something toxic, get your pet to a vet immediately or call the ASPCA animal poison control center at 1-888-426-4435, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (there may be a charge).