The holidays are an exciting time for friends, family, and – importantly – pets. But with added excitement comes a risk of danger, even if you’re not planning to travel. Whether you’re flying home with Fido or hosting friends with Fluffy, you want to keep an eye out for holiday hazards. Below, we’ve broken these threats and risks into four categories.

Food

While you may be tempted to allow Fido or Fluffy join in on the holiday fun, do your best to avoid feeding table scraps. Some of the most common holiday meals contain foods toxic to many pets, including fatty meats, onions, garlic, chocolate, grapes, macadamia nuts, and anything sweetened with Xylitol. If you want to give your pet a great meal, we suggest ordering holiday-themed treats online.

You’ll also want to take the trash out as soon as possible after a large meal. Scavenging pets can get into holiday leftovers and gorge themselves on high-fat foods, which can lead to gastrointestinal troubles, blockage, and in the most severe cases, pancreatitis. In the frantic rush, your pet can also ingest small bones, which can cause severe internal damage. Remember to clean up quickly and place enticing scraps out of reach.

Decorations

Holiday decorations may look nice, but they can present a hazard to animals. Try not to use decorative materials like tinsel and curling ribbon on trees and presents. They may be ingested, which can cause intestinal obstructions and other problems. Additionally, you’ll want to secure all electric light strings so that they are out of your pet’s reach. Animals can easily become entangled or chew on these strings, leading to potential electrocution. Similarly, if you’re using real candles in a menorah, keep the flame under control and out of reach.

While bright and shiny holiday decorations may command most of your attention, Christmas trees are often the most dangerous part of the house. Prevent your animals from drinking the water by covering it with a towel. Tree water can contain sap, fire retardants, fertilizers, and other harmful chemicals. Additionally, weigh down your tree to prevent it from toppling onto an overzealous dog. Remember that holiday plants, like mistletoe and poinsettias, are extremely toxic.

Travel

If you’re planning to travel with Fido or Fluffy this holiday season, use it as an excuse to check in on your pet’s health. Bring them to the animal hospital for an annual check-up to make sure they are healthy, receive a health certificate, and ensure that all vaccines are up to date. Animal hospitals can be busy during the holiday season, so try to schedule your appointment several weeks in advance.

Importantly, you’ll want to be sure your pet’s microchip is working. A veterinarian can easily scan this for you. Before travel, double-check the online microchip database to update all necessary contact information, and make sure your pet’s ID tags are accurate. Busy airports and stressful households can increase your pet’s chance of escaping, so do what you can to make sure they’ll find their way home.

If you’re traveling by car, remember to use some form of restraint while driving – a crate, a pet seatbelt, &c. Keep records of your pet’s vaccination history in the glove box in case anyone asks to see them, especially if you’re traveling across state lines.

Holiday Guests

If your pet is not used to being in a space with a lot of people, you’ll want to communicate that information to everyone in the house. Do not leave pets and guests alone together, especially children, as this could add to an animal’s stress and compel them to act out. If your pet seems overwhelmed by the holiday commotion, let them hang out in a quiet, safe, dark room away from noise and guests.

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