We look forward to our holiday festivities. Keep your pet’s safety and comfort in mind so you can really enjoy your celebrations!

Christmas tree decorations can be hazardous. Tinsel or small ornaments are especially attractive to cats, ferrets, puppies and young dogs. Glass ornaments may fall and shatter and cut your pet’s paws. Don’t hang shiny tinsel and tiny or fragile ornaments on the lower branches of your tree. Avoid decorating with edibles like popcorn. Put up a baby gate to block entry to the room where the tree is kept. Mats that deliver a static shock can be placed around the base of your tree to keep curious critters away.

Keep children’s gifts like toys, as well as wrapping ribbons and bows, safe from pets. Small parts of games, stuffed animals (stuffing and plastic eyes, for instance), batteries and more can result in an emergency trip to the veterinary hospital. Give your puppies and dogs other safe chew toys to enjoy to keep their mouths busy with safer items.

Seasonal plants such as mistletoe and poinsettias are toxic to pets. Young pets in particular like to chew on novel items, but pets at any age can occasionally nibble on house plants. Elevate those decorative plants to keep them safely out of your pet’s reach.

If you plan to entertain at home, consider boarding your pets the day of your party so they are not under foot. If you prefer to keep them at home, confine them to a quiet room of your home. If they are used to confinement in a large, roomy crate or pen this is a good option. Holiday parties are not the time to socialize your pet. Don’t set your pet up for problems. Even the best natured pets can be frightened by strangers and feel compelled to defend themselves.

Serve party food and appetizers from elevated surfaces and keep pets out of these areas. Dogs will race for any food dropped on the floor (some will even grab it from your guests hands or plates) and can become aggressive. Keep your garbage cans secure, too. Gastrointestinal upsets are very common around the holidays and may require urgent veterinary care.

Schedule changes are stressful and inevitable, especially around the holidays. Try to compensate for any disruption by spending more quality time with your pet. For example, if you are going to a holiday party in the evening, take your dog for an extra long walk before leave and gift them a special treat when you go.

The gift of a new pet at holiday time is meant to be meaningful. However, pets given as gifts can be seen as an imposition. Statistics show that pets who are gifted have a higher rate of turnover to shelters and their owners are less tolerant of any problems that arise. That cute and cuddly Christmas puppy or kitten deserves lots of time and effort. The holidays are not really the best time for unexpected commitments or distractions.

Dr. Stefanie Schwartz, DVM, MSc, Dip. ACVB is a board certified veterinary behaviorist and founder of www.CivilizedPet.com. If you need help with a misbehaving pet, please visit www.petbehavior.org.

© Stefanie Schwartz 2019