Our four-legged friends are part of the family, and so
it is natural to want them around while we’re celebrating this holiday season. But according to
Dr. Deborah Tierney at Doc Side Veterinary Medical Center in Fells Point, it’s important to keep in mind what will keep your animals safest and, of course, their usual happy, comfortable selves.
“We love to show off our pets,” she says, “Like, ‘Oh, here’s our new puppy!’ But [owners] don’t always realize [the holidays] can be anxiety-producing for them.”
Here are some of the main tips from Tierney to keep Fluffy and Spot from having to go see her over the holidays.
If your pet is anxious around new people, considering putting him/her in a separate space.
Holidays often include lots of people around, and that can be hard for a lot of pets. Tierney recommends a bedroom, or even the pet’s crate (especially for dogs), as places pets would feel most comfortable since those spaces are dark, quiet and safe. “Sometimes, we don’t recognize how anxiety-producing it is to our pets to have 12 strangers in our home,” she says.
Don’t let your pet eat table scraps—especially bones.
The number one thing Doc Side sees during and after the holidays, Tierney says, is diarrhea and vomiting from pets due to human food they’ve eaten. “I always strongly urge people not to give pets table scraps, especially fats and bones,” she adds. Pets—dogs in particular—will eat almost any food they’re given. Watch out for bones, specifically, because they can choke or break up in your pet’s throat.
Take out the trash immediately.
Related to tip #2, your pets have much better noses than we do and love sniffing out that thrown-away food. If you take the trash outside, or at least out of reach, right away, you lower the chance of Fido ripping it open by mistake and eating what he shouldn’t—and making a mess in the process.
They’re pretty and they’re festive, but they’re also poisonous. For animals that chew on them, poinsettias can be dangerous, leading to vomiting, drooling or diarrhea. None of that may be life-threatening, but it’s probably safestto find a different festive plant for around the house this year.
Put the Christmas tree up a little higher, or don’t decorate the lower branches.
Puppies and kittens are young and curious, Tierney says, and they will almost always try to find a ways to play with the low-hanging ornaments—and that doesn’t always end well. Instead of decorating the tree, ornaments can end up in puppy stomachs or kitten paws, and that’s not the best-case scenario for anyone.
If your pet will be around young kids, make sure to supervise.
Young kids are not very good at reading an animal’s moods yet, Tierney says. If your pet is not used to having children around, you should be there to supervise the kids with him or her. If your pet seems happy and at-ease, great! If not—think poor posture and flat ears, says Tierney—let the kids say “hi” and then take your pet to a safer place, whether that’s your arms or another room.
These small concessions to your pet’s well-being can make the holiday better not only for your pet, but also for you and the rest of your family. Everyone—even our furry friends—deserve a happy holidays.