Being surrounded by loved ones (both the human and furry varieties) is one of the most beloved aspects of the holidays. Watching your dog’s eyes light up when you bring in the Christmas tree or laughing at the way your cat bats harmlessly at Christmas ornaments may become some of your most treasured holiday memories.
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However, it is easy to forget that all of the new and exciting experiences that Christmas brings can also potentially pose a danger for your furry friends. Keep your pets safe during the holidays by being extra vigilant and following these important steps.
Secure Your Christmas Tree
Christmas trees are nearly irresistible to pets, especially when they are fully decorated with dangling ornaments and brightly-colored lights. If your family cat decides to pounce on your tree, or your dog runs into it while roughhousing, it is important to make sure it doesn’t fall over. One way to do this is by ensuring that the tree is anchored very securely to a sturdy tree stand. Make sure the tree is pointing straight up and is not tipped at an angle, or it will be very easy to knock over.
Another way to make your tree safer for pets is by refraining from putting dangerous ornaments on the very bottom branches where they can be easily eaten. Tinsel and glass ornaments can cause severe intestinal harm to animals if consumed, and should be reserved for places higher up on your tree. If you have any edible decorations, it may be wise to donate them to a friend, since they will tempt your pets to knock your tree over in order to get to them.
Be Mindful of Leftovers
Many families make it a holiday tradition to create a grand Christmas day meal full of hearty comfort foods and potent spices. Oftentimes, these large meals are left out on tables and countertops for people to enjoy at their leisure. However, it is important to remember that some of the tastiest human ingredients are actually harmful for animals.
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Fatty foods (like the leftover drippings from the giant ham you cooked), potent spices and leftover bones should never be fed to your dogs or cats. Fatty foods can upset their stomachs and cause intestinal discomfort. Spices, including onions and garlic, can be toxic to pets and should never be left within their reach. Finally, although leftover bones are popularly fed to dogs in movies, the shards can scrape up your pet’s insides and lead to serious health complications.
Keep Chocolate Out of Reach
Delicious food is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the holiday season. From flavored popcorn to rich chocolate bars, there is practically no end to the delicious morsels that find their way to most tabletops during the holidays. Unfortunately, some of the tastiest human treats are like poison to animals. Chocolate and foods sweetened with xylitol are just two types of treats that should be kept away from your pets at all times.
Say No to Poisonous Plants
Poinsettias are immensely popular during the holidays and can help brighten up the home when brought indoors. Although they make beautiful tabletop displays, did you know that poinsettias are poisonous to cats and dogs? In fact, several holiday plants pose a danger to animals, including mistletoe and holly. Keep these plants out of your home in order to protect your pets from ingesting them this year.
Opt for Tealights Instead of Candles
Although real candles are ideal for setting a festive mood, they can easily be knocked over by a curious pet. Ditch the real flames for lifelike tea light candles, which often cannot be distinguished from real candles when placed in votive holders.
Clean Up Gift Wrapping Supplies
While it may seem ridiculous to sophisticated humans, bits of wrapping paper can be absolutely irresistible to a dog or cat. To keep your pets safe and avoid an emergency trip to the veterinarian, keep small bits of wrappers, tape, string and other potentially harmful gift wrapping supplies off the floor and out of reach. Although scissors are not as attractive to animals, they can still cause harm if they are left open on the floor. The best thing to do is clean up after yourself each time you wrap a gift, even if you plan to continue gift wrapping later in the day.
Hide Tempting Wires
Dogs are notorious for chewing on things they shouldn’t, including shoes, books, and even homework (although they are probably unfairly blamed for that last one most of the time). It can be annoying when dogs destroy everyday items, but their chewing habit could become downright dangerous around the holidays. To keep them safe, tuck Christmas lights and other electrical cords out of sight whenever possible. Any exposed wires that cannot be hidden should at least be taped securely to the wall, floor or sides of the house so that animals cannot easily get to them.
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Following these simple, straightforward steps will help ensure that you and your pets enjoy a happy and safe holiday season.