Why ruin your holiday with mishaps you could have prevented? Every pooch and feline friend is different, but they all do get into mischeif once in awhile. Protect them from themselves and make matters easier with these few tips courtesy of the Montgomery County Humane Society.
- As much as possible, maintain your pet’s usual routine with feeding and exercise. Dogs and cats are creatures of habit – they’ll be much more content if you incorporate their daily needs into your overall holiday planning.
PLANTS, POISONS, & DRINKS
- Keep poisonous plants out of reach of your pets. Poinsettias, mistletoe and holly are the most common offenders, as well as lilies that are harmful to cats. A complete list of plants should help narrow it down.
- Watch out for any liquids other than the clean, fresh water you provide for your pet every day, or made-for-pets gravy.
- No unattended alcoholic beverages. That includes eggnog and spiked punch.
- The most dangerous liquid to keep out of your pet’s way is antifreeze – it tastes sweet but can be lethal. It’s also sometimes an ingredient in snow globes.
- Keep the garbage can lid securely closed, or even in another room away from your pets.
- If any of your family members or guests take medications, be sure to keep pill boxes and medicine bottles tightly closed and secured out of a pet’s reach. Zipped plastic bags, locked medicine cabinets are all good protection where both kids and pets are concerned.
- If you have a live Christmas tree, the water in its stand may contain fertilizer or preservatives not good for Fido.
- Be sure your tree is anchored so it won’t tip over and injure anyone, 2-legged or 4-legged.
- Some tree decorations can harm pets the same way that some toys can harm kids. Be especially careful if you’re using glass ornaments that can shatter or that have sharp hooks that can rip a pet’s insides if swallowed. Tinsel may shine attractively to a kitty but beware if it’s swallowed; anything that’s long and stringy like yarn can also get caught up in a cat’s intestines and require removal by surgery.
- Beware of electrical cords that can trip a pet – or a human – and catch fire, cause a lethal shock, or be tempting to a puppy as something else to chew. Use duct tape to keep them wires in place.
- No lit Menorah or Christmas candles in wagging tails’ way. Set them (the candles) in stable candle holders, up on a table, and blow them out if you leave the room.
TOYS & TREATS
- Keep a good supply of healthy pet treats handy so you won’t be tempted to sneak your pet human treats like: chocolate that can lead to digestive upset, cooked bones that can splinter internally, or spicy or high-fat foods like gravy that can lead to pancreatitis. Chewing gum and other sweets containing the artificial sweetener xylitol are also harmful to pets.
- Need a better way to keep Rover or Muffin occupied? Try dental chews and similar treats that take several minutes for your pet to work on. Fill a Kong or other toy that’s more or less indestructible with healthy, digestible treats to ease a lot of an excited dog’s nervous energy.
- Give your cat her own new holiday presents – toys with catnip, a big ball to chase. And of course, lots of playtime.
EXERCISE & REST
- Before guests arrive and endless chaos ensues, give your pets plenty of quality time. Plenty of exercise before the party will help hold down a pet’s level of excitability.
- Reserve a “time-out” room, crate or carrying case for your pets while guests are arriving, and let Fluffy and Spot out once the constant door-opening and closing has subsided. Or if your pet is comfortable with the action, keep a leash on to reduce the chance of your pet escaping when no one is looking.
- Plan ahead in the unfortunate occasion that your pet does dash out the door after Santa or gets spooked from the noise of fireworks on New Year’s Eve. ID tags – with local contact information if you’re traveling – and microchipping are bottom line essentials.
- Supervise! Whether it’s you, one of the kids, or a friend or neighbor, make sure someone is the “designated pet sitter” during a party or other gathering at your home. Set up baby gates or close doors to block hazards you don’t want your pooch to come in contact with. What a great assignment for someone who wants to help.
- Something you should know year-round but especially after your regular veterinarian’s business hours is where to get emergency help if you need it. Keep this important contact information by your phone, on your mobile device, and on the fridge!
This article was originally published on Silver Spring Patch on Dec. 26, 2011.