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After a stressful year, the holiday season is more welcome than ever. While family gatherings will likely be different this year, it’s still a time to gather with friends and family (in a safe, responsible way) to celebrate. 

Health and safety is top of mind for most households this year, and while people are taking precautions to protect themselves and their families from COVID, it’s also important to remember that the holidays introduce some potential hazards for family pets. Especially for new pet owners that haven’t experienced the holidays with new furry family members, here are some tips to ensure pets stay safe and everyone has a happy holiday…

 

Have a Plan in Place

There’s a lot to prepare for when it comes to the holidays. Whether you’re hosting the festive meal or visiting a loved one, it’s important to spend some time considering pets and their needs. Make it clear to all guests that pets should not be fed any food from the table. Pets should be given their regular diet and not be overfeed, even if the rest of the family is indulging.

To a seasoned pet parent, this may seem self-explanatory or repetitive, but dogs should never have chocolate. In the hustle and bustle of a holiday meal, it’s easy to lose track of pets amid the chaos. Every dog is different, but if you’ve met some sneaky masterminds like I have, you’d know that it’s important to supervise certain pets around food. Certain foods, such as turkey or turkey skin, among others, can also be dangerous for pets to ingest. Pets may also encounter several choking hazards, such as grapes or even bones, so it’s important for pet parents to be mindful of where food is placed and to take out the trash to avoid any scavenger-like behavior. 

 

Beware of Dangerous Decor

One of the best parts of the holiday is how creative households can be by adding lights, candles and other decorations around the house to celebrate. It’s imperative for pet parents to consider the possibility that some decorations, no matter how pretty, can cause serious harm to pets. Can those candles be knocked over? Do you notice any signs of chewing on the Christmas lights? Even popular holiday plants, such as mistletoe or holly can be toxic for pets and should be kept out of their reach. 

No one wants to be rushing to an emergency vet clinic on a holiday. Sometimes, no matter how cautious and prepared you are, accidents can happen. Pets are known to be crafty, so as an added precaution, it wouldn’t hurt to be aware of the 24/7 vet clinic nearby, or to have your vet’s phone number on hand in case of an emergency. 

 

Give Them Their Space

While some pets may be happier than ever having a house full of people (or, for 2020, with any new people at all), some may be a little stressed. Having a quiet place for pets to retreat, surrounded by their favorite toys, may be a welcome break for pets in the midst of a holiday gathering. If pets exhibit signs of stress as a result of the changes that come with the holidays, there are plenty of supplements and toys on the market designed to naturally calm pets and help them relax. 

Every pet is different, and some pets, depending on their age or their personality, may be more comfortable and adjusted during the holidays than others, but every pet deserves to have a safe holiday.