The holiday season can be as stressful to pets as it is to their owners! Erratic schedules, diet changes, house guests, and travel can all be upsetting. Advice that is good for people during this time of year pertains to pets as well.
Strive to stick to a schedule that includes exercise, grooming, and feeding times. Avoid overindulging (for pets, this means no leftovers, fatty treats, etc.). If house guests are expected, arrange to have space where your pet may seek refuge.
If traveling with your pet, bring their own food, bed, toys, etc. And don't forget to stick to the routines of feeding, exercise, and grooming while away from home. Some pets are actually happier if left at home or at a boarding facility.
Decorations this time of year may be tempting to curious pets! Ingestion of any of these can be harmful. Examples of things to be cautious about:
- Ribbons, tinsel, string
- Ornaments and ornament hangers
- Candy and candy wrappers
- Potpourri (dry and liquid)
- Electrical cords, strings of lights
- Plants (especially lilies used in flower arrangements)
- Snacks (e.g. nuts, fatty meats, and cheeses)
The holiday season coincides with the onset of winter. Be sure to thoroughly wipe your pet's feet, legs, and stomach when coming inside to remove harmful chemicals and ice. Before starting your car, bang loudly on the hood as cats and other critters sometimes sleep near the warm engine. Keep rat and mouse poison and traps out of reach (better yet…don't use them at all!). Use alternative ice-melting products (e.g., sand, cat litter). Don't allow pets inside garages as they may lick harmful chemicals off the floor (e.g., antifreeze).
If you are thinking about getting a new pet, consider waiting until AFTER the New Year. This will give you time to carefully research your choice of pet and to plan for their arrival (during a less hectic time of year!).
A little common sense will go a long way in keeping our beloved pets safe. Do you really want to deal with your dog's vomiting and diarrhea the week after Thanksgiving? Are you prepared to spend time (and money) at the animal E. R. because your cat needs surgery to remove a ribbon from her intestines? I didn't think so! May your (and your pets') holidays be safe and peaceful!
Dr. Judy Gilbertson is an associate veterinarian at East Towne Veterinary Clinic. She has a background in education and enjoys giving presentations and teaching classes about pet care.