I write about pet holiday dangers every year. And this year, with a new kitten in the house, the tips become even more important for me. This listicle (and a fun infographic at the bottom) offers more than a dozen problems. I’ve included links to more detailed information for those wanting a deeper dive.
13 Pet Holiday Dangers to Avoid
Pet-Proof the Tree. Avoid fragile ornaments. A gate or tinfoil around the tree base may help keep pets away. Anchor the tree to a wall for extra support.
Go Fake. Consider an artificial tree. Pine needles can be dangerous and water in the base may have bacteria or dangerous preservatives you don’t want your pet drinking.
Shiny is Tempting. Glittery tinsel and ribbon can be a hazard if ingested. Avoid decorating with them or using them to wrap gifts that your pet can reach.
Prepare for Guests. More people in the house mean more commotion. If your pet is uncomfortable around strangers, find them a safe, cozy spot away from people.
Some Plants and Flowers Are Toxic. Lilies, chrysanthemums, poinsettia, azaleas, mistletoe, holly, amaryllis, and juniper can cause illness or irritation when ingested. If you worry that your pet may have ingested a toxin or a foreign object, call your vet or consult a pet poison control line right away.
Use Pet-Safe Winter Chemicals. Common ice-melt products and antifreeze are hazardous. Use a pet-safe version of ice melt and store antifreeze products out of reach, even if it has a bitter flavor added to help keep pets from lapping it up.
Secure Lights and Wires. Tape down extension cords, light strings and any other cord that a curious kitty or puppy might chew. Use cord management boxes or secure cords out of reach with cable ties where possible to avoid shocks or burns.
Watch Candles. It’s best to not leave any lit candles in an unoccupied room for your pet to accidentally topple, risk burns, or start fires..
Pick Up Small Toys. Kids will assemble and play with their new toys and gadgets. Keep small toys and pieces off the floor to make sure your pet doesn’t eat one. Swallowed foreign objects can kill pets. Keep button-type and other batteries away from your pet, too. You’ll want to pet proof your holidays with these tips.
Wear Well-Fitted Non-toxic Costumes. Sweaters and costumes can be adorable, but your cat or pup should be able to move, breathe and vocalize freely in it. Never force your pet to wear costumes if their body language is telling you they don’t like to dress up.
Eat Well. Some human food is toxic (or even fatal) to pets. Chocolate, cooked bones, garlic, onion, grapes and nuts are just a few. Watch out for xylitol, a sweetener that’s deadly to dogs. When in doubt, stick to regular pet food or ask your veterinarian. You can offer cats these safe people foods, and dogs also like some people foods.
Secure Your Trash. Even if your pet never messes with the trash, keep a lid on it during the holidays. All those yummy scraps are way too tempting, and could be toxic.
Plan Your Travel Arrangements. Not all pets enjoy traveling and it can trigger stress and anxious behaviors. If your pet is a homebody, hire a trusted sitter or find a reputable boarding kennel to keep your pet happy over the holidays.
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!