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How To Pet Proof Your Holidays with 11 Life-Saving Tips

How To Pet Proof Your Holidays with 11 Life-Saving Tips

Do you pet proof for the holidays? Thanksgiving weekend seems to be a popular time to break out the holiday trimmings, not just in terms of munchies, but decorations, too. There ARE safe foods for cats and dogs, but dangers abound as well.

pets christmas

We’ll see how Shadow likes wearing his big dawg-brother’s hand-me-down sweater.

Three year’s ago, we’d recently lost our Magical-Dawg and Seren-Kitty. This year, we lost Bravo. But with Karma-Kat playing tag constantly with Shadow-Pup, we’ve decided to forgo the tree. This weekend, I’ll put up the outdoor lighted wreaths, well out of pet-paw reach. What about you?

Holiday homes become pet playgrounds at this time of year. Cats delight in un-decking the halls and climbing the tree. Dogs eat decorations and baptize the tree. The result is a Christmas that’s anything but merry. Refer to these tips to keep your pets safe and your holiday happy.

cat rolling in fresh catnip

Pet Proof Plants from Pets

Dogs and especially puppies chew nearly anything. Cats rarely eat plants, but they do claw them and then lick/groom away the residue. Beware of holiday floral arrangements that contain pet dangers. Lilies can cause kidney failure. Holly and live mistletoe cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy if ingested by your pet. Poinsettias are NOT deadly but can cause nausea and/or mild vomiting. Choose pet-safe plants and set them out of paw-reach. Or consider using silk or plastic holiday plants to make an equally showy statement without the poison potential. Check out this list of dangerous plants.

Pets & Fire Hazards Don’t Mix

Fireplaces offer extra warmth and atmosphere to holiday gatherings but can prompt singed whiskers or burned paws. Candles prove irresistible, especially for kittens who paw-test everything to see what it is, or meet it head on to sniff and explore. That’s not just painful for pets, it’s a fire hazard for your entire family, should Fluffy knock over the Menorah. Instead, electric candles are available for decorating purposes. I love the ones that we use! If you must have the real thing, ensure pets are safely out of the way and candles out of paw-reach. Be sure you secure the fireplace screen against curious pets, too. We hold our screen-curtain middle opening together with metal binder clips.

Keep poisonous grapes out of dog reach.

DANGER! Grapes are highly toxic and can quickly kill dogs.

Treats Toxic to Pets

Gobbling any sort of candy may cause vomiting and/or diarrhea. Also refer to these common pet poisons. You can find a list of SAFE holiday treats for dogs here.

Read on for tips–or watch this short video for the good stuff (be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel!)

  • Chocolate poses special dangers. Too much chocolate, which contains a stimulant called theobromine, can kill your pet. Keep holiday candy out of reach, in latched cupboards, to keep your canine glutton from over-indulging. Valentine’s Day is another time to keep pets safe.
  • Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Affected pets may vomit, act lethargic or uncoordinated and these signs may progress to seizures.
  • Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 12 to 48 hours. Almonds, pecans and walnuts have so much fat in them, they can cause diarrhea in dogs, or even lead to pancreatitis.
  • Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. Avocado can cause heart damage and death in pet birds.
  • Flavored aluminum foil, grease-smeared turkey strings, and cellophane candy wrappers can be dangerous to pets if swallowed—dogs and cats rarely unwrap treats before eating. Refer to this post on dealing with swallowed objects. Eating raw yeast bread dough also causes problems when the dough rises in the tummy.

Refer to FIRST AID TIPS here for 7 top pet poisons!

pet proof holidays to keep pets safe

Pet-proof your holidays to keep your fur-kids safe!

Pet Proof Christmas Trees

Cats consider the tree a feline jungle gym with cat toys that swing, sparkle, and invite paw-pats and biting. Some dogs take “aim” at the tree just as they would your outside shrubs and baptize the greenery. Drinking from treated water in the base can poison pets. Eating tinsel and ornaments can prove deadly, and dogs often chew through electric chords with shocking results.

  • Smaller trees can be set on table tops, inside of baby playpens, or in a room protected by a baby gate. Situate breakable and dangerous decorations on the top of the tree out of reach of inquisitive pets.
  • Make the area around the tree unattractive to keep paws at bay. Clear plastic carpet protectors and place under the tree—nub side up. That makes cruising or lounging under the tree uncomfortable. The soft “tacky mats” available from home product stores designed to keep throw rugs from sliding around work well to keep small pets away because they dislike walking on sticky surfaces.
  • Use your pet’s smell sense to keep her away from the tree. Citrus scents are off-putting to cats so scatter orange or lemon peels (or potpourri) around the base of the tree. Vicks (menthol smell) also works as a good pet repellent. Dip cotton balls in the ointment and stick in the lower branches of your tree. They’ll look a bit like snow and blend in with the rest of the decorations.
  • Create a “pet safe” tree decorated with dog toys and catnip mice. Place these within paw reach on lower branches and reserve the off-limits decorations for the top of the tree.

What other steps do you take to help keep your fur-kids safe and kitties stress-free and calm during the holidays? Is a new pet in your future–giving a pet as a gift, perhaps? Do tell!

You may also enjoy my annual holiday story, Why Tabby Wears an “M.” 

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Pet Holiday Visits? 10 Tips to Keep Tails Wagging

Are pet holiday visits in your travel plans? Family gatherings are a big part of the holidays, and pets double the fun—and the stress. Here are tips for keeping your cat calm during the holidays, and read on for more tips.

If you’re thinking about furry gifts for the holidays, check out this post on how to give pets as gifts.

pet proof holidays to keep pets safe
Most cats hate strange environments and going on vacation, so a pet sitter is usually the best choice for kitty, maybe even a service like Rover. Learn about the different options for taking pets with you–or leaving them behind.

If you know your cat does well on the road and during visits, plan ahead. Set up a “cat central” room in Grandma’s house with all the important kitty paraphernalia (litter pan, scratch post, etc.). Cats often require many days or even weeks to accept “new” pets, so for shorter visits, giving your visiting cat a private room away from the resident critters offers the best chance of a happy holiday.

10 TIPS FOR HOLIDAY PET VISITS

Many dogs love new places, though. Taking him along can save boarding costs. Besides, pets are part of the family, so we want to share our furry loves with relatives.

But when your King meets Grandma’s Sheba for the first time, how do you keep the fur from flying? How would you like a stranger sleeping in your bed, eating from your plate, or (ahem) using your toilet? Pet introductions can take days, weeks, or sometimes months to be successful, so don’t expect overnight miracles. Follow these 10 tips to keep the pets happy and safe, and stay on speaking terms with your relatives.

  1. The Resident Pet “owns” the house and yard. Therefore, give him continued access to his territory.
  2. Confine the Guest Pet in one room. Provide familiar bowls, beds, litter pans, and toys in the room where the owner sleeps. The owner scent helps keep the Guest Pet calm even when he’s alone, and confinement provides a familiar home base where he’s safe from the Resident Pet. Confining him behind a closed door also tells the Resident Pet that only part of her territory has been invaded. (This works for visiting kitties, too!)
  3. Create good associations. Feed the pets on opposite sides of the closed door, or offer favorite toys or games. This helps each identify the other pet’s presence with “good stuff” and helps relieve tension.
  4. Use baby gates. The see-through barrier allows the Guest Pet to be part of the gathering without trespassing on the Resident Pet’s turf. A baby gate also gives curious, friendly pets (especially dogs) a safe way to meet. Moveable baby gates can divide a hallway or stairs to segregate whole sections of the house when necessary.
  5. Leash the guest dog. This keeps him under control around the resident pet. That’s especially important with a resident cat.
  6. “Potty” dogs separately. Distract the Resident Dog with treats or a game out of sight when the Guest Dog must leave his room.
  7. Supervise yard interactions. Once dogs experience friendly meetings through the door for a couple of days (no growls, or elevated fur—whines are okay), a nose-to-nose play meeting is possible. Be sure each dog’s owner is present.
  8. Leash both dogs. Bring the Resident Dog out first because he “owns” the yard. Remove any toys, bones or other resources they might argue over.
  9. Walk the leashed dogs parallel to each other on opposite sides of the yard, back and forth, slowly bringing them closer. Stop if you see tucked tail, growls, or fluffed fur—they aren’t ready to play. Play bows (“elevator butt” posture) buy the dogs a 5-10 minute off-leash game before separating them. Play time can be extended if they do well.
  10. Don’t force interactions. When an adult kitty visits, she’ll be happy to stay in the room and wait for your visits. A resident cat also may simply disappear to a safe place in the house to avoid contact with strangers (human or furred).

It’s hard to predict first meetings. You don’t love everyone you meet—(especially weird Cousin Cylene!) so why should your pets be any different? If pets will only be together a few days, aim for management or tolerance. There will be time enough over future visits for pet-to-pet love to blossom.

For more information, refer to this post on how to successfully travel with pets.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!