The holiday season is almost here, and nothing is better than including your four-legged friend in the end-of-year festivities. However, many holiday hazards lurk that may harm your pet if you’re unprepared, so brush up on your holiday safety knowledge, by checking out the following four ways to celebrate safely.

#1: Deck the halls with pet-safe decorations

Nothing brightens up your home for the holidays like colorful decorations that highlight the season. However, many decor options can be hazardous for a furry pal who chews on or ingests these items. When planning your home’s holiday decor, ensure your pet cannot access the following objects:

  • Christmas tree — Ingested pine needles can get lodged in your pet’s intestinal tract, puncturing the lining, or causing an obstruction. Many tree varieties also have irritating sap that can cause your pet nausea, hypersalivation, and discomfort. And, if your feline friend loves to climb, they may harm themselves, if they scamper through branches and knock your tree over, or break glass ornaments. 
  • Tree stand — Stagnant, chemical-laden water sitting in the tree stand can cause gastrointestinal issues in your pet. 
  • Christmas lights and tinsel — Strings of lights and strands of tinsel can prove irresistible to your pet, but nibbling on these tree decorations can cause an electrical burn, shock, or gastrointestinal obstruction. 
  • Candles — Inquisitive pets may venture too close to lit candles, and singe their whiskers, spill hot wax, or start a fire. 
  • Fire-starter logs — Dogs who enjoy chewing should not be allowed access to fire-starter logs, which contain sawdust and paraffin, and can cause an irritated stomach, or intestinal blockage. 
  • Plants — A number of seasonal plants are irritating or downright poisonous to pets, if nibbled or eaten, including ivy, holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias.

#2: Skip the table scraps for your pet

Although you’d love to include your four-legged friend in all your holiday festivities, including the mouth-watering spread on your table, do not share table scraps, especially the following items:

  • Turkey and ham — Turkey skin and ham are high in fat, which can inflame the pancreas, and potentially lead to a life-threatening illness. Turkey bones can pierce or become lodged in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract.
  • Spices and seasonings — Heavily spiced or seasoned foods can cause severe gastrointestinal upset in pets, and the onions, chives, and garlic added to dishes for extra flavor can be toxic.
  • Nuts — While all nuts can be choking hazards for pets, macadamia nuts are especially toxic to dogs, so keep your furry pal out of nut dishes.
  • Raisins and grapes — Raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure in some pets, so holiday fruitcakes and fruit salads should be off limits.
  • Alcohol — Holiday cocktails should be reserved for the 21-and-over crowd, whether or not you’re counting in dog years. Do not let your pet lap up spilled eggnog, spiced apple cider, or any other alcoholic beverage, to prevent alcohol poisoning.

The food on the holiday table can be dangerous to your pet, as can the leftovers that wind up in your trash can. Ensure you lock the trash can lid, so they can’t get into spoiled food, bones, foil, or other hazardous foods.

#3: Plan a pet-safe holiday gathering

Holiday gatherings can be chaotic, frightening events for pets, so lay some ground rules for your guests. Ask them to refrain from slipping treats under the table to your pet, and to keep drinks, coats, purses, and hazardous gifts out of reach. If the commotion becomes too much for your pet, ensure they have a safe retreat that is off limits to guests.

Keep in mind that New Year’s noises can startle pets, so don’t light fireworks, and consider putting your pet in a safe, quiet room during the countdown to midnight that often comes with yelling, cheering, and party poppers.

#4: Hide the gifts from your pet

Your furry pal will likely sniff out their food-related gift from across the house, so place their gift under the tree at the last minute, to ensure they don’t rip apart the packaging. Kittens and puppies will be highly tempted by the ribbons and bows, and older pets also may be curious enough to nibble on these dangerous package decorations, which can cause a fatal intestinal obstruction if swallowed. So, leave your gifts bare. And, once the gifts are opened, immediately remove all wrapping paper, strings, and packaging. 

By following these holiday safety tips, you can avoid many seasonal risks to your pet, and still enjoy the special time of year. However, you should always be prepared for the worst-case scenario, so keep Pierson Pet Hospital’s number close at hand for any emergency your furry pal may encounter.