The holidays are a time to have fun, relax, and enjoy yourself. It’s a festive time of year for both you and your pet, and there’s no reason why they can’t join in on the fun! But, even though it’s the ‘most wonderful time of the year,’ it’s also a time that could present some dangers for your four-legged friend.
That’s especially true if you have a senior pet.
While your furry family member’s safety should always be a top priority, it’s more important than ever to take the right precautions throughout the holiday season. So, what can you do to protect them?
The holidays are pretty synonymous with great food. There are certain festive treats that you might only make/eat once a year, so it’s not uncommon for people to over-indulge. But, before you go sharing your eggnog or sneaking a piece of your mom’s apple pie with your pet, pause and make sure you know what’s safe.
Certain foods can be toxic to dogs and cats. So, while you might think you’re giving them a special treat, you could be doing more harm than good. Some common holiday treats you should avoid giving to your pets include:
- Fatty foods
- Bones from turkey, roasts, etc.
- Raw eggs or meat
If you want your pet to enjoy a special treat, stick to chew toys and snacks that are specifically designed for them or chew treats that can be easily digested. Not only will they stay healthier, but many toys and edible chew items will keep them occupied and entertained, so they can enjoy their own festivities.
Many people decorate their homes for the holidays. It can provide a cozy, comforting, and warm atmosphere that simply isn’t duplicated throughout the year. But, your home design and decor efforts should be done with your furry companion in mind.
Holiday decor like Christmas trees and poinsettias should always be kept out of reach from pets, or blocked off so they can’t be eaten. They’re considered toxic and could end up creating a less-than-merry medical emergency for the four-legged members of your household.
Christmas lights, tinsel, firestarter logs, and other decor should all be kept away from animals. You might need to get a little creative with where you put things, but it’s worth it to keep your pet safe.
Additionally, this is a good time of year to check the air quality of your home. Some of the common air pollutants found in homes include:
- Carbon monoxide
Not only are these pollutants dangerous to you, but they can be deadly for your pet, especially if they’re older. It’s a good idea to call a professional who can make sure your HVAC system is up-to-date for the winter and who can check on the air filtration within your home.
The holidays tend to be busy. Between family gatherings, get-togethers with friends, and office parties, you might have a full schedule. If your pet feels more like a family member, you might be tempted to bring them along with you everywhere you go. If your office allows pets, bringing your dog in to spend the day with you or even attending a holiday party might sound like fun. But, making sure they’re ready for the adventure is crucial. If they have any behavioral issues or aren’t necessarily well-behaved around strangers, it might not be the best idea to bring them to a busy office.
Even if they are well-behaved and like being out and about, you have to be prepared. Bring their food and water bowls, a leash, a favorite toy, and a bed for them to lay on so they have their own space. Traveling, even to work, can be exciting for pets. But, it can also be taxing – especially for senior dogs. It’s a good rule of thumb before your animal goes anywhere, to get them checked by a vet first to ensure they’re in good health.
Keeping your pet safe and comfortable at home is just as important when you’re hosting a holiday gathering. It can be easy for them to feel overwhelmed with new faces, smells, and noises. You can make the experience better for them by:
- Establishing house rules for guests about petting or interacting with your dog/cat
- Keeping your guests’ belongings in a room away from your pet
- Giving your furry friend a room of their own to stay away from the activity
- Keeping the noise down as much as possible
There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy some wonderful holiday festivities with your pet this season! Put a bow on their collar for the cutest Christmas cards ever, or run around with them in the snow and let them enjoy the extra attention from family and friends who might stop by. But, keep these preparation tips in mind to make sure they stay safe and don’t get overwhelmed. If you have an older pet, in particular, making their holidays as calm and comfortable as possible will help you both to enjoy the season that much more.