The holiday season is special, and the sentimental movies leave us yearning for our own perfect holiday fairytale. Traditions such as sipping cocoa by the fire and walking in the snow wrap us in holiday magic. However, return to reality before the festivities begin, and consider how you can prepare to ensure your pet’s safety. To learn how to keep your pet out of trouble during the holidays, read our Little Animal Hospital team’s good and bad ideas for celebrating safely with your furry pal. 

Good idea—going for a festive winter walk with your pet

During the holidays, life can become hectic at times, but taking a few moments outside to reconnect with nature and your pet reminds you to slow down and enjoy the season’s beauty. Walking in new-fallen snow is magical. The world is hushed, except for the sound of your boots crunching on the snow. Your pet looks in awe at the winter wonderland, as their excitement and pure joy become contagious. Your feisty friend may jump and twirl in the soft, fluffy snow, and gobble up the delicious wintry treat. 

Bad idea—walking your pet in extreme temperatures without protection

While a winter walk with your pet can be magical, extremely cold temperatures can be dangerous. Take precautions when the temperature drops below 45 degrees, and if your pet is small and thin-coated, dress them in a jacket. When the temperature drops to 20 degrees or lower, your pet’s hypothermia and frostbite risk increases. Keep in mind that if you feel uncomfortable outside when the temperature drops, your pet likely does too. In addition, remember to protect your pet’s paws when outside during the winter. Slippery sidewalks may be treated with ice melt products that include chemicals which can dry out and damage your pet’s paw pads. To protect your pet’s feet, dress them in booties, or avoid walking with your four-legged friend on chemically treated sidewalks and roads.  

Good idea—including your pet in the holiday decorating festivities

For many people, decorating the house for the holidays is a fun, festive, family tradition. As part of the family, your pet will also want to get in on the fun. Although your pet does not understand the significance of the holidays or the decorations, allow them to gather with the family as you transform your house to a winter wonderland. However, ensure you decorate with your pet’s safety in mind.  

Bad idea—forgetting you have pets when decorating for the holidays

As much as you may want to be the next Martha May Whovier, remember that decorating with pets requires some forethought and adjustments to ensure their safety. Curious pets can get in trouble if they knock over the Christmas tree, or chew or eat a smaller decorative item, so consider the following hazards: 

  • Christmas trees — Whether your Christmas tree is live or artificial, your pet is going to be interested. If your tree is not securely anchored, it can tip and fall, possibly injuring your pet, so ensure your stand adequately supports your Christmas tree. 
  • Tinsel — Tinsel adds a special touch that any Who down in Whoville would appreciate, but the shiny strands can be far too tempting for a curious cat. If your cat ingests tinsel, the strands can block their intestines, which can require surgical removal. Skip the tinsel if you are worried your curious cat may inadvertently swallow the strands while playing with them, or place the tinsel high out of your feline friend’s reach. 
  • Ornaments — Although you don’t need to ditch the ornaments completely, if your pet likes to bite or play with them, you should rethink these temptations’ placement. Ensure you hang Christmas tree ornaments high out of your pet’s reach, even though you likely prefer to have every inch decorated. Do not hang ornaments on your Christmas tree’s lower branches. 
  • Lights — Christmas tree lights and other electrical decorations can be hazardous to your pet. If your pet chews a plugged-in electric cord, frayed wires can burn or electrocute them. To keep your pet safe, use short extension cords, taping them to the floor and wall. In addition, turn off the Christmas tree lights’ power when you cannot supervise your pet. 

Good idea—giving your pet a healthy holiday treat

Food is the focus of many holiday celebrations, and you want your pet to enjoy the gathering rather than feeling left out as they gaze at your plate stacked high with delicious eats. Many holiday foods can cause your pet to become severely ill. Although you should not share your food with your pet, you can give them their own—healthy—holiday feast. Do a quick Google search for healthy pet treats, and whip up a festive feast for your furry friend. Remember, treats should account for only 10% of your pet’s daily diet, so keep their portions small. Your pet will feel extra jolly as they chow down on their holiday treat, and you can enjoy your meal guilt-free. 

Bad idea—sharing table scraps with your pet

Many popular holiday dishes and desserts contain ingredients that can be toxic for pets. Ensure your pet does not eat the following:

  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol
  • Unbaked yeast dough
  • Onions, garlic, and leeks
  • Raisins, grapes, and currants
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Alcohol
  • Turkey bones, fat, and skin

Do not share table scraps with your pet, and instruct guests to do the same. Ensure you always keep food out of your pet’s reach. In addition, securely close trash cans to keep your pet from snagging harmful leftovers.  

As you eagerly anticipate enjoying the holiday season with your pet, take precautions to help them avoid an emergency. To ensure your pet is in optimal health before the holiday rush begins, contact our Little Animal Hospital team to schedule your pet’s wellness exam.