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(Family Features) The holiday season is synonymous with family gatherings, dinner parties, gift openings and plenty of festive food, all of which can pose challenges for pets.
Lisa Darling, DVM, PetSmart's resident veterinarian and pet care expert, offers this advice for keeping pets safe, healthy and happy this holiday season and throughout the cold winter months.
Create a Safe Home
This time of year, holiday decor can include seasonal plants, ornaments and candles, which means plenty of intriguing and dangerous new sights and smells for pets. For example, extra electrical cords can be tempting new “chew toys” for pets. Darling recommends taking special care to ensure extra electrical cords for festive indoor lighting are not accessible to pets by taping down or covering to help prevent injuries.
Christmas trees can also pique the interest of curious cats and playful pups. Darling urges pet parents to firmly anchor trees so they can take any potential playful swatting and to keep breakable glass ornaments higher up on the tree, out of pets’ reach, along with temptations like tinsel and ribbons.
Candles can also be problematic, so it’s best to avoid burning them or put them far out of pets’ reach. Seasonal plants like holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs and cats, so if you plan to decorate your home with them, place them in an area your pet cannot reach.
Savor the Season
The holidays are filled with festive food, treats and candy, and although it can be tempting to share human foods with your beloved pets, resist the urge.
“Table scraps such as turkey, gravy and stuffing may look harmless, but even small amounts can lead to serious health issues,” Darling said.
Instead, include pets in your festive feasting by offering them pet-friendly treats that look and taste like the real thing. An option like Simply Nourish Merry Meals, in flavors like Turkey, Sweet Potato and Cranberry, are healthy alternatives to the human food on the holiday table. Additionally, PetSmart’s meat and cheese tray, pie slice and turkey leg made of rawhide are fun takes on holiday feasting specifically formulated for pets.
Keep Them Calm
The holidays can be a hectic time for people and pets. Extra visitors to the house, travel and commotion can leave pets feeling anxious.
“Before company arrives, try putting your dog or cat in a Thundershirt, which is designed to provide a calming effect when they experience fear or discomfort,” Darling said. “Many pet parents also find that supplements can work by promoting calmness and behavior which may help stabilize pets’ moods.”
Keep Them Cozy and Warm
During especially cold winter days and nights, look to your pet to gauge comfort levels and plan time to dress them accordingly. Generally, if your pet is small and short-haired, it’s likely he or she is sensitive to the cold. The same goes for older pets and those that may be frail or ill.
Darling says that sweaters, coats and booties to protect their paws are all smart (and comfortable) solutions. Booties are particularly important for icy areas that may be salted and can help guard paws from the harmful solution.
A safe home is a happy and festive home this holiday season. Keeping these tips in mind can help avoid emergency trips to the vet, which means the whole family can celebrate a joyful holiday season.
It can be dangerous to feed human food to pets. This holiday season, look for human-inspired treats specially formulated for pets – like this turkey leg-shaped rawhide chew.
Find more pet-friendly tips for the holidays at PetSmart.com.
Photo courtesy of PetSmart