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People love their pets, and during the holidays this affection extends to our furry companions. The season brings family gatherings and parties where we want our pets to be a part of everything we’re doing, so we often bring them along with us when we travel or head out for holiday festivities. But, we also are getting our own homes decorated and blinged out for the season. This can bring many dangers to our pets that can lead to severe illness or injury if they are exposed, so it’s important to take the necessary precautions to keep your home safe for your kitty or pup.

As veterinarians, we often see holiday-related injuries and illnesses and wanted to provide our top 5 safety tips for pet owners.

1) The Christmas Tree is a Hot Zone

Most of us put up our Christmas trees in the living room where everyone can see them, but this is also where many household pet injuries occur. Our pets are fascinated by trees, but unfortunately, they don’t know the potential dangers involved. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Christmas tree water may contain bacteria and toxic fertilizers which can be hazardous to your pet. Your pet may think you’ve put out a bowl of water for them to drink, unaware of what is lurking in the container. Ensure this is completely blocked off from their reach.
  • Ornaments containing glass, tinsel, and even items hand-crafted containing food items (i.e. popcorn garland) may attract your pet’s interest. When ingested, these can cause serious harm.
  • Trees may easily tip over when your pet tugs or climbs on them.

So, how can you have the best of both worlds – enjoying your holiday decor, but also keeping your pet around you and safe? We suggest blocking off access to the tree with gates as well as training your pets to stay away from these items. Trees should be securely in place so they are less apt to tip. If you are going to be gone during portions of the day, consider blocking off the room that contains your tree so that your pet isn’t tempted to explore.

2) Stocking Stuffer Safety

While you’re preparing for all your holiday guests, your pet may be curious about what’s underneath the tree. Many pets enjoy digging into wrapped presents to investigate their contents, but this can result in severe illness or injury. If they eat any of the contents inside (i.e. chocolate or items containing xylitol) they can become very ill or potentially be poisoned.

For stockings hung with care on the fireplace, make sure they are not within your pet’s reach. If you’re noticing a pet’s fascination with these items, it’s simply best to remove their access to them.

3) Cautions Near Decorative Lights and Candles

It’s so festive and fun to walk around your home and place candles throughout. But, be aware of the dangers near these items if you have curious pets in your home:

Candles can easily tip over when a cat or dog rubs up against them. Even an excited wagging tail has been known to knock over candles. Consider using battery-powered options instead, and place these up and out of reach of your pet.

4) Guests’ Handbags

An often forgotten hazard is often one right in front of our eyes. As guests arrive and coats and purses are put aside, the curious scents may capture your pet’s interest. Often inside pockets or handbags are items such as sugarless gum containing xylitol or medications. When no one’s looking, your pet may steal one of these items and it can cause serious illness or even death if ingested. Ensure you have all guests place these items out of reach of your furry friend to avoid any issues.

5) The Open Door

During all of the holiday hustle and bustle, pets still need to be supervised at all times. And with so many guests arriving and coming and going throughout the day, this can become challenging. It’s all too easy for a pet to slip out a door unnoticed, and guests may not be aware of whether a pet should or shouldn’t be going outdoors. The safest option is to place your pet in a quiet room where they can’t escape unnoticed. This way guests coming and going won’t pose a danger to your pet. And, the calmer environment will be less stressful to your pet, too. Consider having the following in your pet’s “calming room”:

  • Quiet music or TV on to distract from other noises
  • Favorite blankets
  • Favorite toys or a food puzzle
  • Their dog or cat bed
  • If your pet feels more secure in their crate, consider crating them

Have a Safe and Fun Holiday Season!

Holiday Seasons are meant for having fun, but there are safety precautions that need to be made so both you and your pet enjoy the holidays too! With some preparation and keeping these tips in mind, we hope you and your furry friends have a very festive holiday season!

If you experience an emergency with your pet, please call us at (678) 581-4055. Our Smyrna, GA clinic is conveniently located at the Shops at Belmont. Our team is available from 9 am – 9 pm to provide veterinary care for your beloved pets.