Holiday decorating, baking, cooking, gift-giving, and spending quality time with pets, family, and friends can all be a wonderful part of making things merry and bright. Yet there are elements of these activities that can be harmful to and stressful for your pet. In this post, Basepaws offers some tips for keeping your pet safe, happy, and calm as you celebrate the season.
Decking the Halls Without Boughs of Holly
Holly is among the many popular holiday plants—including poinsettia, amaryllis, lilies, mistletoe, citrus plants, and even Christmas trees—that vary in toxicity to both dogs and cats. Lilies are particularly toxic to cats, as even a small amount ingested can cause kidney failure.
A safer bet is to exclude live versions of these plants and instead choose artificial substitutes that you can easily find at craft stores. If you choose to have a live Christmas tree, you can safeguard your pet by keeping tree needles picked up, covering tree stand water (which can harbor harmful bacteria and pesticides), and trimming lower boughs to keep them out of mouth’s reach. You might also consider putting a barrier around your tree so that your pet cannot access the area.
For more information, you can review the ASPCA Poisonous Plants list. This site also provides a printable list of toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs and cats, so that you can ensure that the plants in your house and garden are safe for your pet.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry While Also Protecting Your Pet
One of the best parts of the holidays is the range of food and drink offerings. Hot chocolate, eggnog, candy, and baked goods can be a delightful treat for humans, yet dangerous and toxic to pets. Ingredients typical of many holiday dinners, such as garlic, onions, dairy products, and nuts are also harmful to cats and dogs and should be kept well out of paws’ reach.
The best practice is not to share human food with pets. Medications should also be safely stowed in a cabinet that cannot be accessed by your pet. Visit the ASPCA People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets page or the ASPCA Top 10 Pet Toxins page for more information. If you think that your pet ingested food or medication that they shouldn’t, contact a veterinarian right away. You can also call ASPCA Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 or the Animal Control Center’s Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213-6680.
All That Glitters and Glows
Candles, cheerful lights, tree ornaments, and other holiday decorations help create a warm and festive atmosphere in and around our homes. A few pet-friendly considerations while decorating include:
- Keeping lighted candles out of reach of your pet or opting for a flameless LED option, especially for cats who can jump onto shelves and other high areas. Never leave lit candles unattended.
- Prevent your pet from experiencing electrical shock or burns by ensuring that they can’t access (and subsequently chew on) wires and cords.
- Avoid the use of tinsel and similar string-like décor, as ingestion can obstruct your pet’s digestive tract and, in some cases, may require surgery to clear from their system. Wrapping paper with glitter or similar metallic content should also be kept out of reach.
- Snow globes should also be kept in places that prevent the possibility of them being knocked over and broken. To keep glitter and “snowflakes” suspended for longer when shaken, snow globes contain ethylene glycol, a chemical that is also used in many antifreeze products, which is extremely toxic to all pets. Ethylene glycol has a sweet smell that is very enticing to pets, so they must be kept away from a spill area until cleaned.
- Fireworks, sparklers, and other celebratory gadgets can cause severe stress for your pet due to the loud noises that are often associated with them. Make sure that your pet is in a quiet, safe space that is far away from where these items are used. This safe space can also come in handy to keep pets from running out and getting lost, especially when entertaining guests or going outside to enjoy outdoor lights and festivities.
You can also download the ASPCA Holiday Pet Safety Tips PDF to share these and other tips with your friends and family.
As we embrace the magic of the holidays and the coming New Year, Basepaws extends its heartfelt gratitude to you and your pet. Thank you for continuing to be a part of the Basepaws community and supporting our work to usher in a new era of health for all pets. In the spirit of this shared commitment, we hope that the information in this post on keeping your pet safe and healthy has been helpful to you. From everyone here at Basepaws, we wish you and your pet a joyful holiday season and a very Happy New Year!