If you celebrate the holidays like my family then your house is probably filled with the sounds of family members coming together, the smell of pies, cookies, and other holiday treats baking in the oven, and the beautiful sights of all the different holiday decor! Like so many, my dog is a huge part of my holiday celebrations and he even has his own stocking overflowing with gifts on Christmas morning. Of course, we want our pets to be a part of the holiday festivities, but sometimes we have to remember that some activities are not as pet friendly as we would like!
The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for veterinary offices and it's not just because people are getting new puppies and kittens this time of year (although that plays a big part as well). Most of the patients we see during the holidays come in for everything from pancreatitis or other gastrointestinal illnesses, injuries sustained from holiday accidents, or behavioral issues caused by the added stresses of the holidays.
That being said, here are a few ways to keep your pets happy and healthy this holiday season, so they can spend more time with you and less time with your vet!
As always make sure to consult your veterinarian if you aren't sure about something to ensure your pets remain healthy and safe during this busy season!
Keep the Holiday Feast to Yourself
Sure, we all want to let our pets participate in the holiday meal but some of our favorite foods wreak havoc on our pets' health. Remember to keep toxic items like raisins, grapes, onions, garlic, and more away from your pets. Also, high-fat foods or a lot of foods they aren't used to can earn your pet a one-way ticket to pancreatitis land, and trust me that's not fun for anyone! Also, keep in mind a small amount isn't horrible but avoid spending the entire week letting them eat nothing but leftovers.
Keep an Eye on the Decorations
As pretty as they are Christmas decorations can pose some serious threats to your pets! Ingesting them can lead to internal blockages, accidental poison ingestion and other serious problems. If you have a pet who likes to get into the decorations consider decorating areas they can't get to or keeping your pets separated from the Christmas tree. Also, consider kennelling your dog or keeping your pet away from decorations, especially when you are not able to supervise them! Better safe than sorry!
It's Okay for Your Pets to Skip the Party
Sure we all love going to our friends' houses and seeing their pets, and I'm sure you love when your pet gets to be part of the excitement. The thing is, sometimes your pet doesn't love it so much. Large groups or even smaller groups of people your pet isn't used to can be really stressful for him/her. Watch out for signs that your pet is uncomfortable (i.e. panting, pacing, ears back, tail down, cowering, hiding, darting eyes and more). If you notice your pet getting uncomfortable maybe it's time they go into another room away from the chaos.
Presents Should Be Fun, Not Dangerous
My pets are beyond spoiled. I'm talking personal stockings, a ton of toys, treats and more, and plenty of pictures! Most people love spoiling their pets around the holidays and believe me I'm all for it; just as long as what you're getting them is safe and keeps them healthy. One of the most popular dog gifts around the holidays are giant rawhide bones. I'm begging you - don't buy one. These can get stuck in your dog's GI tract and cause major problems! Also, if your dog tends to destroy toys maybe consider getting them treats instead. If you're opting for new chew toys this season, make sure to keep an eye on how hard those toys really are. If you can't dent it with your fingernail there's a much higher risk of your dog breaking a tooth on it and trust me, having a pet break a tooth is no fun. If your pet has any allergies and you want to get him/her some treats - make sure to check with your vet on the best ones to get so they can enjoy the holidays with you!
I hope these tips help you navigate the holiday season with your pets in mind. Of course there are a ton of other things you can do to make sure your pets have a happy and safe holiday season!
Share your holiday pictures with your pets! From Wrigely and I, to you and your furry friends; Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!