As you prepare for the holidays, it is important to keep your pet's health and safety top of mind. Dr. Leni Kaplan, a companion animal veterinarian at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, shares some preparation tips to help keep your furry friends safe and healthy this holiday season.
Dangerous decorations: “While a tree is not generally harmful to pets, pine needles can cause eye trauma and holiday decorations can be hazardous to pets. Consider confining your pet’s access to rooms with holiday decorations especially when unsupervised to keep them from chewing or ingesting ornaments, holiday lights, electric wires, and ribbons. One easy option is to use baby gates.
Holiday treats are for people, not pets: “Restrict pet access to holiday snacks and treats like chocolate, coffee, caffeine, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins and any candy or food item containing xylitol which are toxic to pets. Store these items in places pets cannot reach or access. Do not share your food to avoid unnecessary weight gain in your pet. Have healthy snacks on hand to share including green beans, carrots, zucchini or celery.
Guests can be stressful: “Evaluate your pet’s stress levels when hosting guests. Consider boarding pets during the holidays unless boarding is in itself a source of stress. Discuss with your veterinarian using anti-anxiety medications if indicated. Consider confining pets to a safe space, room, or crate while entertaining visitors.
Poisonous plants: “Poinsettias are relatively safe and do not impose a serious hazard to pets but do avoid access to or ingestion of mistletoe and holly. Additionally, some visitors may bring bouquets that contain flowers such as lilies which are toxic to cats.
Routine is key: “Make sure to stick to your pet’s normal routine as much as possible to enjoy a low stress holiday season. Build in time for walks, play, and meals prior to the start of the holiday season.
When to call your veterinarian: “Contact a veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet ingested any dangerous foods, items or if they are not acting right. If traveling, be proactive and find out where and when you can seek veterinary care during the holidays in case you need it.”