The holidays are filled with joy, laughter and time spent with family and friends. In the bustle of the season, however, it’s easy to forget these festivities aren’t always pet friendly.
Purina veterinarian Dr. Zara Boland explains which holiday foods, décor and more pose a risk to pets. She also offers expert holiday pet safety tips to ensure a fun-filled season for the whole family, including the four-legged family members.
Keep These Items Out of Reach for Better Holiday Pet Safety
1. Hazardous Gifts
If you have a pet, you’re on high alert when hazardous items come into your home. Be as conscientious as a guest by adding special tags to gifts that aren’t pet friendly. This way homeowners can place the gift out of reach of curious cats and dogs. We’ve created a printable gift tag template so you can mark gifts and other items as hazardous to pets.
2. Ribbons, Bows & Other Décor
Gift ribbons and similar decorations can cause serious harm if pets ingest them. “As soon as gifts are opened, take the ribbons and wrapping paper away,” advises Dr. Boland. “Ribbons can be fun, but your dog or cat needs to know how to play with it properly. My cat used to love pieces of wrapped up, crinkled up paper. So you can play chase and fetch with appropriate toys, but not ribbons.” Household décor with moving or hanging pieces or electrical components can also pose a threat.
3. Holiday Plants
Holiday plants can also pique your dog or cat’s interest. “At Christmastime, you may have new plants in the house that are poisonous to pets. Lilies are particularly toxic to cats, and azaleas, holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are also poisonous. Be cautious and aware of what’s coming into your house,” advises Dr. Boland, otherwise, “Pets may sniff and eat them.” You can read more about which holiday plants are toxic to dogs and cats here.
4. Certain Ingredients
Holiday meals contain some favorite, seasonal ingredients, and although they’re tasty to humans, many are harmful to pets. When creating your holiday pet safety checklist, include ingredients to keep away from your dogs and cats.
You already know to avoid chocolate, but you’ll also want to watch for grapes and raisins in your cookies and cakes. Dr. Boland says, “These ingredients can be, unfortunately, toxic for our pets.” Xylitol is another toxic ingredient to avoid. This sugar alternative is found in an array of foods from cake and cookie mixes to yogurt and peanut butter.
5. Purses & Coats
Your pet’s curiosity and the scent of new guests may lead them to root through your guests’ purses or winter coats. This can seem harmless and even comical at first, but your dog or cat could find medications, chewing gum and other harmful items.
According to Dr. Boland, “Ibuprofen is poisonous to our pets and the decongestants we use in the winter months are also toxic.” Not to mention, most chewing gums contain xylitol, which we’ve already stated is toxic. Place your guests’ belongings in a coat closet or a closed-off room where your pets won’t have access.
By following the above holiday safety tips for pets, you can avoid many seasonal risks to your pet and enjoy a fun-filled, safe holiday. It’s always wise to prepare for the worst-case scenario, though, so keep your veterinarian’s number in your phone and ask about their emergency procedures during the holidays.
We also recommend adding the number for the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) to your phone: (888) 426-4435. They’re available 24/7, including holidays, though they may charge a fee for any services provided. Complete your holiday pet safety checklist today and read more tips from our experts here.