The Most Dangerous Time Of The Year

Ah, Christmas. Decorations, feasts, family and friends gathering around, and lots of presents. Sometimes it seems like there can’t be anything bad about the holiday season. Amidst all the busyness and joy and festivities, keep in mind your pets might need a little special attention during December.
Any Christmas-celebrating cat-owner knows cats like Christmas just as much as we do. When you bring a tree into the house, just for them, they can only assume they’re on the nice list. Unfortunately, not too many people appreciate their cats climbing up the tree, knocking down ornaments, tearing up lights and causing a mess, so the poor kitties are yelled at and they don’t understand why they can’t climb the inside tree. While not having a Christmas tree just isn’t an option for the non-Scrooges, there are other things you can do to make the experience a little less stressful for everyone. Keep the tree water covered so animals don’t drink it, don’t place long or sparkly ornaments right at the bottom where the cat will be encouraged to play with them (we used to put bell ornaments at the bottom so we’d hear when the cats were near the tree), and provide plenty of safe entertainment for your cat and other pets so they aren’t as interested in the tree.
Poinsettias, lights, ribbon, tinsel, mistletoe, and fake snow can all be dangerous to your pet. Most decorative inside plants, especially the ones we see around December, are toxic to animals and should be kept somewhere the dog and cat (or rodent or bird) won’t reach them: a trip to the animal ER won’t exactly spread your holiday cheer. Lights, ribbon, tinsel, fake snow and presents can be very attractive to pets. Try to keep all your wrapping isolated from animals, especially cats who will swallow large quantities of ribbon or tinsel and require surgery to extract it, and possibly don’t put presents under the tree until Christmas Eve. Keep an especially close eye on those Christmas lights. We all remember what happened to the cat in the movie Christmas Vacation…
Parties and holiday food can also be dangerous. While most family dogs and plenty of cats and other pets are perfectly happy wandering around a party and greeting guests, you should still make sure there’s a quiet area they can retreat to. Maybe serve their food in there so they aren’t excited while eating (a gassy dog is an instant party killer!) and take them to another room every so often to relax. Plus, even though it may be a little difficult to control with a house full of family and friends and free flowing holiday cheer and the abundance of finger foods, try not to let the animals eat human food. While most human foods aren’t likely to kill your pet, some can make them very sick, or at the least make them feel like many adults do after a night of partying. Give the dog something safe to chew on, like one of his own toys or treats, and make sure other animals are kept out of the way of the party and fed beforehand so the temptation is reduced.
It’s easy to get through the holiday season with happy and healthy pets, it just requires a little bit of planning and a consideration for your pet’s well being throughout the month. Things will return to normal in January.