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Holiday Safety Tips for Pet Parents

During the holiday season, you probably enjoy spending quality time with family and friends — and that includes your furry family members!

As a pet parent, it’s important to be aware that holiday decorations, food, social gatherings, and other festive staples could potentially pose a risk to dogs and cats.

Armed with the below knowledge, though, you can enjoy the holiday season with peace of mind.

Holiday Eats

Although it may be tempting to feed your furry friend tasty table scraps, resist the urge. Many holiday foods, like Thanksgiving stuffing, eggnog, Hanukkah gelt, and Christmas cookies, can pose a serious threat to your pet. Foods like these can result in vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, and other digestive discomfort. Or, worse.

Avoid spending your holiday at the vet. Learn more about the holiday foods that could cause harm to your pet here. And, discover the everyday foods that you should never feed them here.

Just because pets can’t indulge in many of the holiday foods that you do, that doesn’t mean you have to exclude them from the holiday festivities! Whip up some pet-friendly treats, like these, pick up some holiday-themed treats from a local dog bakery, or give them a spoonful of 100% pumpkin from a can (just make sure it’s free from added, salt, spices, and sugar).

LEARN MORE: Keep your pet away from these 7 holiday foods.

Need a vet? Book a visit.

Holiday Decor

For most people, holidays and home decor go hand-in-hand. If you’re a pet parent, though, you should be aware that some decor is best left in storage. Curious pets may get tangled up in Christmas tree lights, knock down festive candles, or be enticed chomp down some tinsel. 

Instead, decorate your home with your pet in mind. Only light candles when you can supervise your pet, keep toxic plants out of reach (or out of your home entirely), and choose ornaments that won’t break.

LEARN MORE: Safely decorate your home.

Holiday Gatherings

You may be a party animal, but that doesn’t mean your furry BFF is. If you’re hosting a holiday gathering at home, make sure your pet is comfortable with guests in their home. If they aren't, it may be best to separate them from the celebration and giving them a safe space in your home with water and toys. And, if your pet gets especially anxious in social gatherings, ask your vet for advice. They may suggest supplements or medications for your pet. 

If your pet is joining in on the fun and you plan to have them don a festive outfit, make sure it’s comfortable and doesn’t pose any choking hazards.

LEARN MORE: Socialize responsibly with these holiday hosting tips.

Festive Fireworks

Fireworks are a fun tradition for many occasions, including New Year’s Eve, but many pets don’t share our love of these noisy displays. 

The loud noises can frighten them, especially since the sounds are unpredictable, harsh on their sensitive ears, and impossible to escape. This may make a pet perceive fireworks as a threat.

LEARN MORE: Ease your pet’s firework anxiety.

Holiday Travel

If you’re heading out of town to visit family or friends, the first thing to decide is whether to bring along your furry friend. Some pets enjoy travel and new experiences. Others may do better staying put with a pet sitter or even going to a nice boarding facility.

If you plan to fly with your pet, make sure to call the airlines ahead of time. Many have restrictions on breed allowed to fly, carrier size and type, and the number of pets per flight. Plus, they may require your pet to get a health certificate (note: even some interstate car travel requires it). Check the USDA’s website for more information.

Ahead of traveling with your pet: Make sure your pet is microchipped; reserve pet-friendly hotels; pack your pet’s supplies, like food, water, and any medications; and if your pup or kitty gets motion sick, talk to your vet about pet-safe medications (they may also recommend something you can use for anxiety).

LEARN MORE: Travel tips for a safe and happy journey.

By making a few modifications to your holiday decorations, traditions, and celebrations, your entire family — two-legged and four-legged alike — can enjoy a fun, safe holiday season!

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