The holidays are upon us! It's a time of excitement, fun and merriment, but it can also be stressful for humans and pets alike! In this news letter we'll look at some of the ways you can help your pets to have a happy and healthy holiday season.
Common Holiday Toxins/Decoration Dangers
Many of the foods and drinks that are popular with humans around the holidays can be quite toxic to our pets. Below is a brief list of things to avoid but we would strongly recommend not giving your pets ANY human foods to decrease their risk of vomiting, diarrhea and potentially life-threating pancreatitis. Pleas avoid the following :
Alcohol (Cats can especially be attracted to milk or cream-based beverages)
Avocado (Birds and rabbits)
Coffee/caffeine/chocolate (Dark chocolate is more dangerous then milk or white)
Citrus fruits (Including peels, seeds and stems)
Macadamia nuts (All nuts should be avoided though due to high fat content)
Dairy products (high fat content can increase their risk for pancreatitis)
Undercooked meats, Bones
Xylitol (Artificial sweetener in gum, toothpaste, some candies & some peanut butters)
Raw yeast dough
Food is not the only thing to be cautious with when it comes to pets and the holidays. Decorations such as tinsel, beaded chains, ribbons, broken ornaments, small toys, etc. Can all pose serious threats to your pets. Extension cords, lighted candles and mistletoes are also things to keep out of reach.
Stranger Danger/Noise Tips
With new faces and new experiences extra caution is often needed to keep pets comfortable and safe. Pets should be safely secured to or watched very carefully while doors are being opened and closed to ensure that they do not escape. Having a collar with ID tags +/- a microchip is also a good idea. Having a "safe space" in a room far away from the gathering can also be a huge benefit for dogs and especially cats. Make sure this room has their crate or bed, fresh water and any other comfort items for them. Guests should be alerted that if the pet goes to this room that he or she should be left alone until they decide to come out. This is especially important for children in order to prevent bites or scratches that can occur when a nervous animal feels as though their space is being invaded. Be sure to keep pets secure during evenings when fireworks are likely to occur as the noise can scare pets into fleeing.
Checking in on your pet regularly during holiday events can also help to prevent problems before they happen. Pets are very routine-oriented so keeping their meal and bathroom times as consistent as possible can help to avoid dangers like constipation, anxiety and accidents in the house. With the business of holidays it can also be easier to forget to refill water bowls or clean litter boxes so these should be made a priority to ensure you can tell if your pet has been drinking normally or using the litterbox as it should be. Keeping exercise schedules regular for dogs can also help with reducing destructive behaviors that are more likely to happen if left alone for long periods of time without having had an energy output.
Take Home Message
The holiday season is a wonderful time but can also be a stressful time for pets. Being prepared and taking the time to ensure your home is as safe as possible will go miles towards keeping them safe and healthy. Don't hesitate to contact your veterinarian today with any questions or tips on how to keep the holidays as smooth as possible!
Written by Dr. Emily Zakrajsek