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Pet Holiday Dos And Donts

dog looking up at Christmas tree and presents on table

As the holidays approach, here is a quick reminder list of the do’s and don’ts for you and your pets, to help keep everyone happy and healthy throughout the season:

Do keep children supervised. Even if they are familiar with pets, and especially if they are not, young children move fast, scream and yell, tug and pull and do other things that can be dangerous to pets or to themselves.

Don’t expect more from your pet than he or she is capable of. You know your pet best and you know what level of noise, excitement and activity they can handle. For pets that are not accustomed to children, consider keeping them confined to a separate room. Young children, especially if they are not used to being around pets, can be injured by not understanding a pet’s warning signs or behavior or by tugging and pulling at their hair, ears, and tail.

Do maintain a normal walking and play schedule. This will allow your pet to burn off normal energy and frustration associated with the busy day. If you are too busy with holiday preparation, ask another family member or a guest that is familiar with your pet to help. A tired pet is a good pet!

Don’t let your pet snack all day. If you serve hors d’oeuvres, make sure they are not at a level that your pet can easily reach. If you put out a fruit platter, grapes can be toxic to dogs so keep it up high and out of reach. Consider feeding your pet ahead of time or leaving some dry food out as a snack. Ask your guests not to feed your pets, but if you know some of your relatives or friends have little to no willpower and cannot resist those big, puppy dog eyes, put out a small number of pet friendly homemade treats, pieces of carrot, green beans or apple, for them to give.

Do cover all food on the counter or buffet while you are eating so your pet will not sneak something when you’re not looking. Consider feeding your pet in a separate room or his crate while you are enjoying your holiday meal.

Don’t give table scraps to your pet. The following are especially problematic for your pet and can lead to a significant health crisis.

  • Rich, fatty foods like turkey skin and gravy
  • Stuffing from the turkey containing onions, raisins, nuts and sage
  • Grapes, raisins, and currants
  • Nuts, especially macadamia nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee

Do watch for non-edible hazards:

  • Baking strings – used to secure the turkey and can cause obstructions if your dog gets a hold of them.
  • Cooked turkey bones – can splinter, causing your dog serious problems that may require surgery or could even cause death.
  • Corn cobs – can be a major choking (or intestinal blockage) hazard for your dog.
  • Holiday decorations – very dangerous for dogs; flowers can be ingested, candles can fall and start a fire, and flameless candles with batteries can be swallowed. It’s fine to enjoy holiday decor, but make sure that it’s out of the reach of your pets.
  • Turkey brine – should be discarded immediately after use. This salty, sugary solution may make your turkey moist and juicy, but if your dog drinks it he can get salt toxicosis, which results in brain swelling. 

Don’t leave the trash uncovered. Dog and cats can easily knock it over or get into it while you are busy and not looking. Take the trash out frequently to keep your pets out of the things you were already trying to protect them from.

Do make certain your pet is wearing a collar with and ID tag. Holidays are busy times and pets can easily get out and get lost. If your pet has a microchip, make certain your contact information is up to date. This is especially important if you are traveling during the holidays with your pet.

Do keep the phone number for your veterinarian, emergency clinic and Pet Poison Hotline handy and easy to locate.

Following these guidelines will ensure a safe, happy and pet friendly holiday season!