5 Essential Pet Safety Tips: Seasonal Do’s and Dont’s for Humans


Deck the Halls with lots of love.

Pets (Updated 2024) 07th Nov, 2021

Here are some pet safety tips to keep your furry family members happy and well this year, and for many more to come. As we start to come together with family and friends to celebrate American Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s, it’s easy to want to have our 4-legged friends join in the festivities.

As social people, we gather to eat, drink, and make merry. Décor, scents, and new delicious and wonderful aromas fill our homes. The holidays are intoxicating, a sensory overload, and quite an overwhelming time for us. It is the same for animals, whose senses are enhanced more than humans.

pet safety tips

Pet Safety Tips:

Be mindful of food products! Some of our favourite holiday morsels can be harmful to our pets:

Chocolate/Cocoa, Candies, especially those with xylitol, yeast bread dough, and fruit cakes with raisins and currants. Fruit Cake becomes an extra danger if soaked in rum. Only a few bites of an alcohol-soaked cake can cause alcohol poisoning, which can quickly lead to seizures and respiratory failure in pets. Nutmeg is also concerning to pets, causing stomach concerns and seizures in some.

Food heavy in dairy is also a no-no for your pets. These items may cause diarrhoea and digestive problems, as well as allergic reactions in dogs. It is better to keep the dairy-laden foods off their holiday plate this season, including egg-nog, heavy cheeses, milk, whipped cream, and butter.

Savoury items that have garlic, chives, shallots, and onions. These items are found in so many items, so unless you prepared it yourself, and you can be 100% sure it’s not in a food product, don’t risk it. These can cause damage to blood cells and anaemia.

Dogs, like humans, love bacon and ham. Limit these treats to very small amounts, if at all. Dishes with pork can cause pancreatitis, a potential life-threatening disease in dogs.

Bones – stay clear of sharing the bones of a Christmas Goose, a Thanksgiving Turkey and a beautifully prepared duck, with your pets. Poultry bones are thin and jagged when broken and can perforate the trachea and intestines, cut up the mouth and stomach, or cause obstructions requiring surgical intervention. It is best to get them a heavy-duty bone at your local supermarket or pet specialty store.

pet safety tips

Decorate with you, your family, and your pets in mind:

Poinsettias have been known for years to have an extremely high level of toxicity if ingested by your pet. While it likely won’t cause death, there could be mouth and stomach irritation.

Christmas Cactus can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, and Christmas/English Holly is a known danger for the stomach and intestines, so while beautiful and festive, make sure you hang these seasonal plants in places where your pet cannot reach them.

Tinsel is like a cat magnet. Do yourself a favour, if you have a cat, ban tinsel from your household. To a cat, tinsel looks like a toy, something fun and shiny, shimmery and delightful. In actuality, it is far from it. It can wrap around the tongue, lodge in the stomach, and cause digestion issues preventing the passage of food, causing intestinal issues as well as cutting sensitive tissue. Dogs generally don’t find tinsel as much fun, bit still be aware that a smaller, more inquisitive, dog/puppy could be intrigued by tinsel.

Walking into a beautifully decorated home during the holidays is a wonderful experience. The smell of evergreen pine, or some other season scent, fills the air. To a human, it’s soothing and relaxing. To a pet, it smells like yummy treats. Keep liquid potpourri way out of the vicinity of a pet. They contain essential oils and detergents that can cause chemical burns in the mouth, tremors, fever, and breathing issues in cats. Dogs, while not as susceptible, can also have lingering effects.

pet safety tips

When you host, your pet is also hosting:

Who doesn’t like to have guests over to share in the holiday cheer? Make sure that you put away handbags and gifts. The last thing you want is your pup or kitty rummaging though your guests’ belongings. A worse scenario is if the handbags, and/or backpacks, have hazardous/poisonous items in it: hand sanitisers, aspirins/medications, chewing gum, inhalers and cigarettes to name a few.

pet safety tips

How to destress your pet for the holidays:

While many of us, when we have a stressful moment during the holidays, will reach for a glass of wine or a piece of pie, your pet cannot do that.

Watch your pets for body language, so that you can tell if your pet is telling you that they need a little time out or a break from all of the sights, smells, sounds, and guests. Some of these behaviours are licking the mouth, yawning, blinking the eyes, looking away, turning away, sitting down, lying down, and shaking the whole body to release a lot of stress or excitement.

Make sure you are giving them time to just be. Nothing going on, no radios, TV’s, no loud noises, just spend some good quality, quiet, alone time with you and your pet.

Give your pet a pampering session – perhaps brushing or grooming, nail cutting if your pet allows these things without being stressed out. A good kitty, or puppy, massage may do the trick.

Provide them an extra special treat from you when it’s a quiet down time. This will help your pet destress, and show them your love as well.

pet safety tips

So what can your furry best friend eat for the holidays?

Honestly, you shouldn’t go too far out of the norm for your pet’s food palate. Any deviation from their normal diet can upset their stomach, or cause an allergic reaction. There is nothing wrong with a little something special now and then, especially if it also makes you feel good to do so, just do it smartly and in moderation.

Some holiday foods that are good for dogs (most cats want nothing to do with many of these) include: cooked sweet potatoes (minus any additional ingredients – so no marshmallows or brown sugar!); baked potatoes; pumpkin purée (not canned pumpkin pie filling); cucumbers; steamed or raw carrots; steamed green beans or leafy greens; unsweetened cranberries; bananas; and apples.

These are all excellent choices — and not just during the holidays. They are all highly nutritious and good for your dog! If you want to share a small amount of turkey, it should be white meat only and make sure you don’t add any skin or gravy. If you have goose or duck, make sure you are not giving any fat with the meat!

You may also like to check out Pets at Pride.

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