It’s the most wonderful time of the year! At least, it is for us humans. For our furry friends, it’s a season of cold weather, delicious smelling food, and super colorful decorations that they think double as pet toys. All of those things that we love about the winter holidays—the food, the decor, the snow—can be harmful for our pets if we’re not careful. But don’t panic! We’re here to help. Follow some of our safety tips and we can all make sure that Fido and Fluffy enjoy this magical season as much as we do.
Candy and Treats
We all love a little eggnog this time of year (some of us perhaps too much). While a hearty cup of the stuff by the fireplace is nice, don’t be giving any of it to your pets! There are several ingredients in most holiday snacks that are bad for pets: alcohol, chocolate, dairy fat, caffeine, and excess sugar. Guess what? Eggnog contains huge amounts of most of these.
At a minimum, these ingredients will cause crazy stomach problems. Worst case, you’re looking at an expensive trip to the vet.
This time of year, there’s usually more candy, chocolate, fun drinks, and sugary treats around the house than normal. Pay extra attention to what your pet is sniffing around and keep the human treats far out of their reach.
Leftovers and Bones
“Ok,” you’re thinking, “so no holiday cookies, but what about those turkey leftovers? My poor pup has been drooling at my side all night long!”
“No!” I tell you. Stay strong against those puppy eyes! Leftovers—especially anything with cooked bones—can be fatal to your pet. I know, your dog chews on bones all the time. What’s wrong with recycling the leftover bones from your meal and letting him go to town?
Turns out that when you cook bones (like in the ham you made for the family dinner), they become brittle. This means that, when your pet chews on it, they can splinter. Next thing you know, your poor pup has bone shards damaging his gut.
Aside from the bones, giving them leftover trimmings can be just as bad. Scraps that people usually leave for their pets consist of fat and gristle that we don’t want ourselves. This stuff is horrible for our pets! Not only will eating leftovers increase their risk for heart disease and obesity, it’ll also give them crazy upset stomachs.
Resist the begging and only give your pets food and bones specifically made for them.
Have you ever wondered how your cat can tell the difference between their toys and tree decorations? If you’re a cat owner, you know this is a trick question, because they can’t.
To Fluffy, stuff like tinsel and ribbon are just extra long toys. When swallowed, Fluffy can get a stomach issue called “linear foreign body obstruction” which is just a fancy way of saying “expensive vet bill.”
Same thing goes for dogs. You know how Rex likes to chew stuff? Guess what happens when he chews on decorative string lights? The answer is pretty shocking.
Animals are also attracted to certain glues, adhesives, and oils (like in potpourri) which are toxic. So make sure anything containing these materials is out your pet’s reach.
Safety Outside The Home
Speaking of chemicals, things like street salt and antifreeze can be “cat”astrophic for your pets. So pay extra attention when they go outside. Make sure they don’t try to lick anything unusual and clean off their paws regularly.
Lastly, if you have an outdoor pet, don’t go thinking that they’re impervious to the cold. If your furry friend stays outside, make sure they have fresh, unfrozen water and a wind-free shelter. You also need to check their bedding regularly to make sure it’s warm and dry since it can quickly turn soggy if it’s slushy outside. No one wants to sleep in a soggy bed.
This goes double if your pet is extra young or old. Just like humans, these guys are more vulnerable to the cold than normal so you should probably keep them inside.
We all love our pets, but let’s admit it—they can be silly at times. Help them out by keeping holiday hazards far out of reach. They’ll thank you for it through warm cuddles and sloppy kisses. For more information on keeping your pet healthy this winter season, book an appointment at Hunt Valley Animal Hospital today!