The holiday season can present many potential dangers for your pet. When making your gift list for your pet, choose presents that can help keep them safe during the holidays. Our Island Animal Hospital team wants to help by offering recommendations for gifts.
#1: Give your pet pet-friendly holiday treats
Decadent dishes are a must during the holiday season, but many common human foods are dangerous for pets. Provide pet-friendly treats so your pet doesn’t feel left out when everyone is indulging in the holiday feast. Ingredients to avoid include:
- High-fat treats — Ingredients high in fat are dangerous for pets because they can trigger a painful and potentially life-threatening condition called pancreatitis.
- Chocolate — Everyone loves a chocolatey treat during the holidays, but the sweet indulgence is toxic to pets, causing central nervous system stimulation that can result in signs such as restlessness, excessive panting, vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and seizures.
- Xylitol — This ingredient commonly found in sugar-free and diabetic friendly baked goods is toxic to pets. When ingested by your pet, xylitol causes an insulin release that can result in severe hypoglycemia. In addition, liver damage occurs in some cases.
- Bones — Many people think bones are a great treat for pets, but bones, especially when cooked, are brittle and can break easily, causing damage to your pet’s mouth or gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
#2: Give your pet a new identification collar
The holidays can be hectic, and many pets go missing during the mayhem. Ensure your pet has a well-fitted collar and identification tags that have your current contact information. In addition, they should be microchipped. This is the best way to provide permanent identification for your pet. Once your pet’s chip is implanted, ensure you keep your contact information up to date in the microchip registry so you can be reached if your pet is found. If your pet does not have a microchip, please call or email us for more information and to set up an appointment.
#3: Give your pet a pet safe zone
Holiday gatherings can be stressful for pets. Provide a safe zone so your pet has a refuge if they get overwhelmed during the festivities. Tips to create an excellent safe zone include:
- Making the room off-limits — Designate a quiet room in your home as your pet’s safe zone, and ensure your guests don’t have access to this area.
- Playing music — Turn on a television or leave music playing to mask the party noise.
- Providing a distraction — Offer your pet a distraction, such as a food puzzle toy, to keep them occupied during the holiday gathering.
#4: Give your pet a safe Christmas tree experience
No pet can resist investigating a tree in their home, but Christmas trees can pose many dangers for your pet. Considerations include:
- Tree stability — If your cat climbs the tree or your dog’s enthusiastic tail wag hits the tree, the conifer can topple, causing damage to your home and potentially injuring your pet. Stabilize the tree in a sturdy tree stand, and ensure the tree is anchored to the ceiling or to an adjacent wall to prevent a disaster.
- Tree water — The water used to hydrate the tree can contain chemicals and bacteria that are dangerous to your pet. Ensure your pet can’t access the tree water.
- Ornaments — Shiny, dangly objects are hard for your pet to resist, but breakable ornaments can shatter when your pet investigates them, potentially causing injury to their mouth, face, or paws.
- Tinsel — Tinsel adds pizzazz to any Christmas tree, but if your pet ingests a strand while admiring the sparkly stuff, they can develop a GI obstruction that may require surgery to remove.
- Electrical cords — No Christmas tree is complete without festive lights, but many pets enjoy chewing on electrical cords. Ensure your cords are well hidden or use electrical cord covers to prevent an accident.
#5: Give your pet behavior modification therapy
Many pets experience noise phobias during holiday fireworks celebrations. Prepare your pet before the season by providing behavior modification therapy. If your pet is prone to anxiety during fireworks noise, steps to help alleviate their fear include:
- Finding a fireworks track — Search online to find a fireworks track that triggers your pet’s response.
- Finding the right level — Play the track at a level that is quiet enough that your pet doesn’t respond.
- Finding the right time — Play the track during a positive activity, such as mealtime or playtime.
- Increasing the level — Gradually increase the volume at every session to allow your pet to acclimate to the sound in a comfortable setting. If they show anxiety at any time, lower the noise level back to the safe zone.
- Staying patient — This process takes a while, so give your pet plenty of time to get used to the fireworks noise.
#6: Give your pet a safe holiday travel experience
If your pet is traveling with you over the holidays, ensure they stay safe during the trip. Considerations include:
- Road travel — If traveling by car, ensure your pet is appropriately restrained. Small pets should be kept in a carrier placed on the vehicle floor, preferably behind the passenger seat. Larger pets should be restrained using a well-fitted seat belt harness.
- Air travel — If traveling by plane, ensure your pet can fly with you in the cabin because the cargo area is not a safe place for them.
These gifts should help protect your pet from potential holiday dangers. If you want to microchip your pet before the holiday season, contact our Island Animal Hospital team so we can ensure they are properly identified before the festivities begin.