While many Americans will be busy traveling, working and shopping this holiday season, it is easy to forget about man’s best friend. Pets are important members of our families, and we need to keep them protected during the holidays.
Whether traveling or staying home for the holidays, here are some simple reminders from the experts on pet safety:
1) Have a plan for your pet
Before finalizing travel plans, be sure you have a plan for your pets. Many kennels are full during the holidays, and people you might count on to watch your pet might not be available. Don’t delay on making arrangements for your pet.
If it is too late to find a kennel or dog sitter, one option is to find a hotel that allows pets. Many hotels will allow pets so long that you keep your pet in a crate while you are out of the room.
2) Keep decorations out of reach
According to the American Kennel Club, holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are poisonous for dogs. Those same plants are also dangerous for cats. Holly and mistletoe can cause severe issues with pets’ digestion system. Poinsettias can cause serious reactions that could lead to seizures.
On trees, ornaments can easily be shattered and swallowed by pets. It is best to keep ornaments off the lower branches on your tree to prevent your pet from digesting these potentially sharp pieces.
3) Gifts also should be out of reach
Pets are naturally curious. Even a gift-wrapped sweater box could cause problems for your pets. The American Kennel Club says that when pets eat wrapping paper, it can cause issues with digestion. To be safe, keep wrapped gifts hidden until it is time to give out the gifts.
4) Human food mostly a no-no
While it might seem like a good idea to give Fido leftovers, in general this should be avoided. Pets should particularly avoid foods that are spicy, fatty or have bones, chocolate and xylitol in them.
But if you cannot resist giving your cats or dogs something special, small amounts of peanut butter, cheese, green beans and apples are fine. Just like for humans, these foods are good in moderation.
5) A place to hide
No, this category is not about you hiding when your mother-in-law shows up – although that would be nice – this is an area that is meant exclusively for your pets. Many pets get nervous, shy and scared to be around humans that they are not accustomed to. A spare bedroom, office or basement with your pets' favorite toys and food is a good idea during holiday gatherings.
If your pets wants to join the party, leave it up to them.
6) Loud noises really, really hurts their ears
Have you ever noticed your pet can hear someone approaching your house before you can? This is because your pet has very sensitive hearing. While this for the most part is a good thing for your pets, it can be a crux during the holidays.
Noises that particularly bother pets are gun shots and fireworks. Pets can hear these noises blocks away. Even if you don’t have a pet, if you have a neighbors nearby that is a pet owner, you definitely should refrain from making these noises.
Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs.