How To: Celebrate Safely With Your Pets
‘Tis the season for shiny decor, gourmet feasts, sweet treats, gift-giving, and family gatherings! Having a few days off to relax and spend quality time with our pets and loved ones is one of the greatest parts of holiday season. However, with all of this excitement, it’s important to keep our four-legged friends’ safety in mind. We’ve put together your go-to guide for celebrating safely with your pets, whether in the decor you choose, the food you share, the activities you enjoy, or the toys you stuff their stockings with — we’ve got you covered!
Decorations are half the fun of the holiday season, but mindfulness is essential when setting up your space for the holidays. While many items look beautiful and harmless to us, they may be dangerous to our pets, so here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Make use of shelving and mantelpieces and keep things like fairy lights, ornaments, and candles up high in the safest possible locations.
- Make sure all electrical wires are tucked out of sight.
- Avoid decorating your home with any string-style tinsel.
- Remember to blow out any candles and unplug lights from outlets at night.
- Consider artificial arrangements as festive plants like mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, amaryllis, holly, and poinsettias can be harmful if ingested.
- Do not allow your pet to drink the collected water if you have a live Christmas tree.
It’s hard to deny those puppy dog eyes, but do your best to resist the temptation of sharing food. Certain treats and scraps can be hazardous and should be stored far out of reach, and any leftovers should be put away immediately. You may find your pet begging for “people food” under the table during holiday dinner, but it’s best not to indulge them. However, if you happen to give in, make sure you are only sharing in moderation and only offering foods that are typically safer for their consumption. Some of those include:
- Cooked, unseasoned white meat turkey breast
- Plain yams
- Cooked sweet potatoes
- Pumpkin and squash
- Plain, butterless mashed potatoes
- Cooked, plain salmon
- Green beans
- Cranberries (no sugar or sugar substitute)
Some foods to avoid:
- Turkey/meat bones
- Candied yams
- Pie or other desserts
We still recommend sticking to pet food only for your furry friend so that you aren’t creating bad habits for your pet, or often kids who see you feed your pet human food and follow suit.
For those with mischievous furry friends, make sure you keep your beautifully wrapped presents out of reach. Styrofoam peanuts, twist ties, tape, and ribbon are tempting (and easy) for your pet to pick up and can cause harm if ingested. Consider keeping them in a separate room until it’s their turn to open gifts. Speaking of, here are some great ideas for pet-safe stocking stuffers:
Active toys. Hard, rubber, vet-approved toys in various shapes and sizes are great for chewing on and playing with. Feathered, rope and woven toys are excellent for multiple-pet households where a lot of tug-of-war or feather hunting goes down, and tennis balls are perfect for playing fetch. However, be sure to discard any worn down/frayed toys and any chewed-up balls, as these can be a choking hazard.
Distraction toys. There are several different toy brands and subscriptions full of products that you can fill with treats or peanut butter. These are great for distracting or keeping your pets busy during holiday celebrations.
Comfort toys. Plush, soft toys serve different purposes for different pets. Some enjoy carrying plushies around in their mouth and view them as their friend or baby, so pick one that’s appropriate to that size. Some opt to shake and destroy their plushies (it’s safe to assume these are not viewed as friends), so you’ll want to select one that’s sturdy enough to withstand some roughhousing. In any situation, avoid any small enough for your pet to swallow, and be sure only to provide vet-safe and approved toys.
It’s not a matter of whether or not you should include your pet in your holiday traditions and pastimes; it’s how! And there are so many different ways to get them involved. Here are some fun, festive, and—most importantly—safe activities you can enjoy with your pet:
- Visit a pumpkin patch
- Go for a hayride
- Have a picnic in the park
- Grab dinner on a dog-friendly patio
- Take them out to a ball game
- Roam the neighborhood for light displays
- Stage a fall/festive photoshoot
- Find some snow to play in
Pets make such a rewarding addition to any household. As part of the family, they deserve to participate in our traditions, and that begins with providing the safest possible environment for our festive celebrations. Let’s work together to follow this guide and make this holiday season the happiest, healthiest, and safest yet!