In Savannah Morning News Column

Holiday Safety for Your Pets

Savannah Morning News – December 15, 2017 Michelle Thevenin, Executive Director

The hustle and bustle of the holidays are in full swing in my house.  I’ve bought my tree and holiday cards have started arriving in the mail.  The menagerie senses something is different and there’s a special treat for them under the tree.

Your household is probably no different.  As we approach the holidays, there are several things we can do to keep our pets safe while sharing the joy of the season:

  1. Christmas Trees: We’ve all seen the memes on social media of cats pulling down ornaments, lights or even whole trees.  I have friends whose dog liked to crawl under the tree and chew on its branches (it’s just a big stick that someone brought into the living room, after all).  You may need to keep your pet our of the room the tree is in – the tinsel, the crinkling of gift wrap and potentially edible ornaments are all very tempting to dogs and cats alike.  If you have a live tree, change the water frequently as your pet may want to sip out of the tree stand and bacteria can gather there which might upset their stomach.
  2. Poinsetta, Mistletoe and other Holiday Greenery: In general, something new in the house may ignite your pet’s curiosity and they may explore by chewing or even eating the greenery – some holiday plants can be poisonous, while others may just cause an upset stomach or diarrhea.  Cleaning up after your sick pet is probably not how you want to spend your holiday gathering, so keep plants out of reach and keep an eye on your pet.
  3. Party Animals: If you are hosting a holiday gathering, think about whether your pet is a social butterfly or prefers to sneak away to a quiet corner.  Even for a social butterfly, all the hustle and bustle can sometimes be overwhelming.  Give your pet a place to escape to and provide them with a special toy or treat to keep them occupied.  And always supervise them around children who might be visiting and may not know how to best interact with your pet.
  4. Holiday Foods and Alcohol: My pets have fairly set diet that doesn’t differ much from day to day. Introducing rich holiday foods, sweets or alcohol (accidently sipped from a cocktail a party guest may set down on your coffee table) may cause stomach upset or worse, a visit to the emergency vet. Many holiday foods contain ingredients that are toxic for our pets, such as chocolate, xylitol, garlic and raisins.  No one wants to spend the holiday at the emergency room getting their stomach pumped, including your pet.
  5. Lost and found: As visitors come and go, ensure your doors and gates are secure and that a pet doesn’t slip out unnoticed.  Make sure your pet is micro-chipped and is wearing a collar with identification.  My menagerie is not only micro chipped but wears collars with their name and my phone number embroidered on them.  This is particularly important during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season when pets may escape unseen out the door or in a strange neighborhood during travels.
  6. Routines: Keep your routines as  normal as possible.  The morning walk and evening playtime may help both you and your pets de-stress.  If there are guests in the house on your pet’s favorite couch or an airbed where their crate usually is, set them up somewhere with their favorite blanket and a fun toy or treat (like a filled Kong).  Feed them at normal times so they are not so tempted to gnaw on those semi-edible Christmas tree ornaments.

But most of all, enjoy the holidays with your loved ones, both human and four-legged.  The team at the Humane Society for Greater Savannah wishes all of our readers many blessings this holiday season!