The holiday season has begun and many of us have begun decorating our homes with lights, trees and decorations. Though many families with small children often decorate with their safety in mind, many people forget about the family pet. Pet parents should decorate with their pets in mind, keeping any dangerous materials out of Fido’s reach.
Candles, wires and chocolate can be fatal for a pet if left too accessible. Pet parents should keep decorations that can be a danger to pet health out of reach. Baking and trimming the tree are often holiday traditions in many pet parents’ homes. As the excitement of the season approaches, we must remember to keep our pets away from dangerous treats and decorations.
Before including pets in the holiday festivities, take the necessary precautions. Follow these tips to ensure a safe and happy holiday for the whole family.
• Holiday plants with berries – especially holly, mistletoe and poinsettias – can be toxic, cause vomiting or worse.
• Candles, incense and menorahs can all be dangerous to pets. Keep them out of reach of pets or have them supervised when lit.
• Potpourri and tobacco products left out can be toxic to pets.
• Be careful how you attach costumes to pets. Pets can choke on rubber bands, string, ropes and ribbons. These items can also cause discomfort if put on too tight or left on too long.
• Chocolates can be toxic and fatal to pets. Forgo nice displays of chocolates if they will be unattended and easily accessible to pets.
• Provide healthy treats for guests to give pets.
• Guests should be prepared by letting them know you have a pet or pets. It’s important to let guests know whether its OK or not to feed your pet, what to feed your pet and if children can be around the pet unsupervised. It’s also a good idea to tell guests not to walk the pet outside the house without asking, as they might be unfamiliar with your neighborhood.
• Make sure you are aware if any of your guests will be bringing a pet so you can offer them the same courtesies.
• The holidays bring increased use of electrical cords, which can be chewed through and cause electrocution. Tape them over, put them under rugs, or spray them with a nontoxic, bad-tasting ingredient, such as Bitter Apple.
• Many children's toys have small parts, which can be seen by pets as enticing play toys. Children should know the harm that can come to the family pet if they don't pick up and put away all of the pieces of their games and toys.
Tips to reduce your pet’s stress
Live Christmas trees can be beautiful in keeping with your family’s holiday tradition, but they pose safety risks to your pets. To ensure the pet is safe around your tree, keep these tips in mind:
• Secure trees to both the floor and ceiling, if possible, to prevent them from falling.
• Pine needles can choke and puncture intestines. If you have a live tree, consider how you deal with this common problem.
• Consider what ornaments you will place on more reachable low-hanging branches. Place ornaments with string hangers vs. metal hooks down low.
• Food on Christmas trees can tempt your pets. Consider whether or not hanging candy canes, ginger bread, popcorn or cranberries is a good idea.
• Make sure pets cannot get at the water in the tree base. Tree water can contain fertilizers and bacteria.
• Tinsel is attractive to pets and can block intestines or choke; consider an alternative decoration for your tree.
Strangers and large groups in the home can create excitement—and stress—for pets. Consider these methods for reducing pet stress during gatherings:
• Reduce holiday stress for pets by maintaining regular exercise and feeding routines during the holiday.
• Exercise dogs shortly before a party to reduce stress.
• Provide a private room or area where pets can retreat to avoid the stress.
• During a busy party or day, a pet placed outdoors (including by a well-meaning guest), can be forgotten and freeze. Make sure someone is assigned to each pet to check on them during regular intervals.
• Dogs should be trained on how to greet guests—when greeting guests at the door, consider placing dogs on a leash.
Assisi Pet Sitting Services, LLC is a pet sitting and dog walking service located in Noblesville, Ind. The company has been in business for four years and services all of Hamilton County and surrounding areas.
As of Dec. 9, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.