How to Have a Pet-Friendly Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

How has the holiday season typically been for you and your furry family members?  Whatever holidays you celebrate, remember to keep your pet in mind.

This is a time of year where your regular routine likely gets interrupted—you’re probably either traveling or hosting guests, there are different things up in your house, special kinds of food around, and you are more preoccupied than usual with baking, parties, shopping, and other prep.

Whether you love this time of year or can’t wait for things to slow back down a bit, remember the holiday season includes your pets, too. So, how can you have a pet-friendly holiday season?

Read on and we’ll tell you things like what festive plants are dangerous for animals, what holiday foods your pet can eat, the importance of spending time with your pets even when your schedule fills up, and more.

holiday with pets

Remember it’s their house, too

It’s natural around the holidays to want to spruce up your home. Whether you’re entertaining others, or just doing it for yourself, you put up decorations and cook special things. But which of these things are okay for our pets, and which do we need to be conscientious of?

Festive plants and trees

Poinsettias are often thought to be cat enemy #1 around Christmas. But they’re not actually as toxic as they’re often made out to be. They are mildly toxic, but a cat would need to ingest quite a bit to require veterinary attention. In fact, the chemicals used on them when they are mass-produced around Christmas may actually be more harmful than the plants themselves.

Either way, it’s still a good rule of thumb to keep poinsettias away from where cats can get to them and munch. Keep an eye on your feline friend if your decorating scheme includes poinsettias, and if she starts to display any unusual or sickly behavior, contact your vet immediately.

So…poinsettias are okay unless your cat ingests a significant amount. But did you know that lilies, holly, and mistletoe actually pose a far sneakier danger? These plants can be very toxic to pets if even just a little is ingested. So put those ones far away from where any pets can get to them.

If your pet does ingest a harmful holiday plant and requires immediate attention, call the 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. A consultation fee may apply. You can also download their FREE app here.

Christmas trees also can pose some threats to pets if you’re not careful. Ingesting pine needles from real trees can cause internal issues. Playing with or ingesting the metal hooks we use for our ornaments can pose obvious threats. And if you have a frisky feline who might be prone to climbing your tree, in order to keep it upright, try tying the tree to the ceiling, or only allowing your cat in the same room as the tree when she is monitored.

You may want to consider something like a furbo camera for when you’re not home, so you can be the first to know if your pet is digging into your holiday cheer.

Other holiday safety considerations for pet parents

Try taping down your electrical cords if your dog or cat is tempted to play with or chew on them. Lastly, whether your family falls into the brown-sugar-in-the-water or aspirin-in-the-water camp for your real tree, neither of these are great for your curious or thirsty pet’s digestion.

Bottom line—keep a close eye on your pets when it comes to holiday plants. Your home is your pet’s home too; they’re curious by nature and will want to check out the unusual things you set up.

And while you may enjoy a house humming with holiday activity, your pet may not. Set up a quiet corner for her to retreat to if she needs a break from all the activity and people.

Be mindful of human holiday food that’s dangerous for pets

We humans love to indulge around the holidays. But some of the things we turn to most—chocolate, alcohol, cookie dough, the artificial sweetener xylitol—which is used in tons of things like candy and frosting, and caffeinated beverages–pose a serious threat to pets if ingested. Grapes, raisins, and currants are also all toxic to them.

So what table scraps can we share with them this time of year? Turkey is fine in moderation. And things like sweet potatoes, green beans, and carrots are okay in their plain forms—before any kind of glaze or seasoning gets added.

Pumpkin is widely accepted as being good for animals—but only in its plain canned form. You’ll want to keep the pumpkin pie away from them, as the sweeteners and whipped cream are big no-no’s.


Don’t forget about your pets amidst the holiday hubbub

Amidst the parties and the shopping and other fun things for you this time of year, do what you can to not leave out your pets.

Include them in the gift-giving; give them things like bones and chew toys that will keep them engaged while you’re busy. Give the fellow pet lovers in your life a gift that will benefit their pets too, like a BarkBox subscription.

If you have guests, try not to just lock your pet away. Introduce them to your guests, and help make both parties comfortable. Stay consistent with the feeding and break schedule your pet is used to year-round. And after the holidays are over, do be thorough with your clean-up, completely stowing away those items that could pose a threat, and keeping your pet’s comfort in mind when you rearrange when the decorations are down.

So have a great rest of your holiday season, pet parents! Space Coast Pet Services is available to help, should you need it. If you’ll be away, we can house sit, board your pet, and more.

Enjoy your traditions and your loved ones, just remember to be mindful of the furry ones too, in your prep, your celebrating, and your clean-up when the holidays have come and gone.

Happy holidays from my family to you and yours!



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