Keep Your Pets Safe During Holiday Celebrations!
Know which foods, decorations and plants may be hazardous to prevent unexpected emergencies.
With the holiday season upon us, San Diego Humane Society reminds pet owners to remember their pets’ safety. Decorations, seasonal plants and festive treats can sometimes be harmful for pets.
To keep everyone safe, here are tips to keep in mind:
- Christmas trees can be hazardous, particularly for climbing cats. Make sure your tree is secure, preferably in a corner to reduce the likelihood of falling. Keep dangerous ornaments such as glass and tinsel (which can be a choking hazard) on high branches, out of the reach of little paws. Dangling tree ornaments can seem like great toys to cats and dogs. Cords from lights should be taped down or otherwise secured to prevent pets from chewing on them.
- Keep an eye on items under the tree, too! Don’t let pets drink water from the base of a live tree as it may be stagnant and contain bacteria. Wrapped gifts with ribbons and bows can be a choking hazard, and any packages filled with edible gifts are likely to be discovered. Pets have a keen sense of smell and will often unwrap presents early and eat the potentially harmful contents. Chocolate is especially dangerous for pets.
- Only share safe foods. Sharing certain holiday foods with your animal companion can be dangerous, and pets are often not shy about taking food that is left sitting out on counters or tables. Too much fatty or rich food can lead to digestive problems. Onions, grapes/raisins, chocolate, baked goods and alcohol, can be toxic. If your pet ingests alcohol, contact your veterinarian.
- Holiday season plants can be toxic to pets. Amaryllis, Christmas cactus, Christmas rose, evergreens, holly, ivy, juniper, lilies, mistletoe and poinsettias are just a few examples of plants that can cause digestive upset or more severe toxicity to pets if eaten.
- Unsafe pet toys can be a potential hazard. You will see many toys marketed as holiday gifts to pets this season — but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe for animals. Avoid pet toys that could be dangerous, such as those with easily detachable parts like sequins, buttons or ribbons. These items can be choking hazards or cause gastrointestinal blockages if ingested. If toys have stuffing or plastic squeakers, it’s important to supervise playtime to prevent accidental ingestion.
- Place burning candles high, out of your pet’s way. A dog’s tail wag or a cat’s curiosity could be devastating. Homes with fireplaces should use screens to avoid accidental burns.
- Unsecured medications can be easily accessed by pets. If you have visitors, pets may investigate suitcases and can get into their medications, such as pill bottles or weekly pill minders. It is safer to have the visitors put their medication in a closed cabinet that is not accessible to pets.
- Not all pets enjoy costumes. Holiday sweaters and outfits may seem irresistible, but if your furry friend does not enjoy dressing up, let them be themselves. While sweaters can help keep some pets cozy in cold weather, others can experience discomfort, distress and overheating in clothes. Monitor your pet and use their cues to determine their comfort level with clothes.
- Excessive salts and chemicals in ice melt products, homemade play dough and salt-dough ornaments (even when dry) can be tempting salty treats for pets, but can all can also cause life-threatening imbalances in electrolytes. Pet owners should contact their local veterinary professional or the Animal Poison Control Center if their pets get into any of these substances.
- Keep your pets safely indoors and always make sure they're wearing current ID tags with a phone number. Holiday distractions may make it easier for pets to escape through frequently opening doors. Make sure their microchip information is up to date If your pet is not microchipped, San Diego Humane Society offers $25 microchips at its El Cajon, Escondido, Oceanside and San Diego Campus locations. Schedule an appointment at sdhumane.org/microchip.
You can easily make the holidays a happy time for your pets!
Pets thrive on routine, so you can help them enjoy the holiday by keeping their daily patterns as normal as possible. Keep your pet on their regular schedule for feeding and exercise, and be sure they get plenty of love and attention from you! If you do have more activity in your home than usual, give your pet a quiet, secure place to escape the commotion. Our pets can get stressed with noise and activity and want somewhere safe to relax. Make sure they have their bed, favorite toys, food, water, and a litter box for cats.
Indulge your pets by providing safe treats in meaningful ways — such as in an enrichment toy or game, which can provide hours of entertainment, or by preparing sealed snack bags and letting your guests reward your furry friend.
This holiday safety advice is tailored specifically to dog and cat owners. However, San Diego Humane Society understands that many people also have other animal species as pets. Please reach out to your family veterinarian regarding species specific concerns.
Published: December 13, 2022