Keep those paws off the presents! Animal safety reminders for the holidays

December 4, 2020
By Olivia Cameron

BY OLIVIA CAMERON- As we celebrate the season’s greetings with decorations and delectable desserts, those of us who are proud parents of pups and felines should be careful not to disregard their safety throughout the holidays. There are some things we wouldn’t normally think of, like placing a cocktail on the edge of the coffee table or leaving a string of ribbon on the floor, but there are many pet safety hazards to be aware of the minute the Christmas tree comes through the door.
Before commencing holiday traditions, make sure your house is animal-proof. A freshly cut tree clad in glass bulbs and twinkling lights makes the season bright but can also make the pets sick. 
Jane Moyer, owner of Boca Grande’s Island Dog Boutique & Supply Company, keeps a sharp eye on her three pups during the holidays and is well versed in seasonal pet safety.
Moyer suggests that a faux tree is much safer for pets to be around. 
“Live tree needles can be poisonous to animals, not to mention that live trees can cause pets to have reactions to mold.”
If you bring a real tree into the house, do not let your pets drink from its water. Animals can get sick from the bacteria in the water. In some cases, there may be antifreeze in it as well. Not to mention, a dry Christmas tree is a distinct fire hazard.
Edible decorations like popcorn garland will encourage pets to climb the tree. If the tree isn’t anchored properly, it’ll come down with the garland. Of course, glass and other breakable ornaments can break and cause internal bleeding and organ damage if eaten by your pup.
And when your family or visitors are there to greet you at the door, don’t let it swing wide open. 
“Leaving the front door open is something that worries me,” said Moyer. “Pets can escape easily when company doesn’t realize there’s a gap in the doorway by their ankles.”
If your guests bring children along with them, make sure these children can interact with pets. Kids are the main culprits in leaving chocolate around for dogs to find as well.
Once the door is shut and the pets haven’t been set loose to roam the neighborhood, you’ll want to make sure your company isn’t too loud for your pets’ sensitive ears. Likewise, pets should be separated if your visitors do not handle them well.
At most holiday gatherings, the family dinner is the highlight of the evening. Keep a watchful eye on your pets, for they may sneak a bite off a plate, get fed under the table or lick a pan clean. Guests may want to feed the begging dogs, but if they are unaware of diet restrictions and harmful ingredients, these tasty table foods can send dogs into an evening with a sick stomach.
“Fatty foods are especially harmful to dogs. They should only be fed lean meats that follow their diet,” said Moyer. “Foods that contain fats are not good for their livers.” 
Owners should also avoid letting their pets consume foods with heavy spices. In turn, family members may try to give dogs a cooked bone, but Moyer warns that these bones could bring splinters.
She also stresses the importance of avoiding giving dogs rawhide. For years people thought they were safe for their dogs, but in recent years it has been found that rawhide chews can not only contain contaminants, but the pieces and create esophageal and intestinal blockages that can lead to a dog’s death.
Once dinner has been served and enjoyed, empty plates and cocktail cups that are left behind still pose a  threat to an animal’s safety, especially if it is eager to jump up on the table. It doesn’t hurt to wash dishes right away.
When it’s time for post-dinner cocktails and beer rounds, isolating pets can be a good idea. Loud environments can make pets nervous and perhaps lead to trouble.
Even if your pets are comfortable and tended to with their usual routine, it is important to keep gift wrapping supplies from their mouths. Once they’ve got a ribbon between their teeth, they may not want to spit it out. 
If gifted a poinsettia, keep the plant out of your pet’s reach. Along with other indoor plants and greenery, poinsettia and mistletoe are poisonous if ingested by animals. After all, it’s easy to miss your pet’s sneaky plate licks and string light chewing, so avoid an unforeseen trip to the vet and plan accordingly.