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Pet Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Published: November 2019

The holidays can stir up excitement as you get ready for the activities, meals and decorating that lies ahead. But, if you’re a pet owner, you should also consider how things like festive plants, lighting or other changes around your house might affect the safety of your pets. Here are eight safety tips that keep your pet’s well-being in mind this holiday season.

Cat looking up at holiday decorations.

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1. Secure, Hide or Cover Electrical Cords

Holiday lights and decorations usually lead to many new cords being scattered around the house. Be sure all cords are secure or hidden so your pets aren’t tempted to play with or chew on them, says the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). It may also be a good idea to unplug cords when you’re away to minimize the risk of electrocution.

2. Keep Food Out of a Pet’s Reach

The holidays inspire delicious food, drinks and desserts. But remember, dogs and cats shouldn’t eat certain foods because it could make them sick. When you wrap up mealtime, be sure the counters are clear of food, store away all leftovers and take out the trash, says the AVMA. You should also make sure to secure the lids on all trash cans to help deter dogs from trying to dig in.

3. Ditch the Candles

Lighted candles may add a charming glow to your home around the holidays, but they can be dangerous to your pets and create a fire hazard. Never leave lit candles unattended because your curious pet could burn themselves or knock them over, says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Consider opting for battery-lit candles instead, to help keep you and your pets safe during the holidays.

4. Research Holiday Plants

Many common holiday plants could be dangerous to your pet. Plants such as mistletoe, holly and poinsettias could cause your dog or cat to have cardiovascular or gastrointestinal issues if they ingest them, says the ASPCA. Keep in mind that certain plants can also affect different animals and breeds in unique ways. Be sure to research how specific holiday plants may affect your pet before deciding to showcase them in or around your home.

5. Update Your Pet’s Vaccinations and ID Tags

It’s a good idea to ensure your pet’s vaccines are up-to-date to help protect them from certain illnesses, especially if you’re planning to travel this holiday season, says the AVMA. You should also ensure their identification tags include your current home address and contact information. This can be helpful in case they accidentally get loose or slip out the door as guests come to and from your home.

6. Create a Safe Space for Your Pets

To help keep your pet comfortable around the holidays, consider creating a specific area or room where they can go to have quiet time, recommends the AVMA. That way, if the commotion of any holiday parties or festivities gets overwhelming, your pet will have a space they can retreat to.

7. Decorate Your Home With Safety in Mind

Holiday trees and other decorations can be a safety hazard to your pets. Cats and dogs may be interested in dangling decorations and lights on holiday trees and could accidentally knock the tree over if they get too close, says PetMD. Avoid stringing lights and decorations on low-hanging tree branches, or anywhere else within your pet’s reach, to help deter your pet from trying to chew on or play with them. It’s also a good idea to avoid using tinsel, as it could cause an intestinal blockage if your pet ingests it, adds PetMD.

8. Keep a List of Emergency Phone Numbers for Your Pet

Being prepared if the unexpected happens is important. Keep contact information for your veterinarian, a 24-hour pet hospital and the Animal Poison Control Center easily accessible in case of an emergency, recommends the AVMA.

Keeping your pet safe is likely a priority year round, but during the holidays you may want to take some extra precautions. Remembering these tips can help keep your holiday celebrations happy and safe for both you and your pet.

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Our pages are filled with helpful tips and information about the topics that most of us face in our everyday lives. We focus on safety and maintenance issues with regard to your home, auto, apartment, motorcycle, boat, small business, finances and more. Please recognize that a particular tip may not be effective in every circumstance and that taking preventive measures cannot guarantee any outcome. We encourage you to use your own good judgment about what's appropriate for you and your property and always consider safety.
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