Planning the Perfect Christmas When You’re a Pet Owner
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and if you’re like millions of people out there getting ready for Christmas, you know how much work it can be. But what if you have pets? You’re concerned about their safety, your beautiful tree, and your guests. It can all feel a little overwhelming, but we’ve got a few tips to help you with planning the perfect Christmas when you’re a pet owner!
Keeping Them Safe
If you’ve got pets you know they’re a member of your family just like everyone else, and you want them to be able to take part in the holiday celebrations. Doing things with them, like unwrapping gifts, is always fun but is usually a high energy activity especially for dogs. You’ll want to make sure that there are no small objects laying around that they could accidentally swallow, like small ornaments that may have fallen, pieces of ribbon or wrapping paper, and children’s toys. If any pet swallows one of these it can mean serious health consequences, so make sure you’re careful. In between activities do something more low key that the whole family will enjoy, like snuggling up and watching a Christmas movie with the family.
Pets (we’re looking at you, cats) are notorious for destroying the Christmas tree as soon as the ornaments are placed, and the lights flipped on. It’s not surprising as the shiny twinkling objects look like an array of endless toys just for them. There are some easy ways that you can keep your kitty away from the tree, though! Cats have a very sensitive sense of smell, and an especially strong aversion when it comes to citrus fruits. You can place some oranges or lemons on the bottom branches of the tree, tucked back out of sight. If you don’t want to place whole fruits, you can use just the peel in the same manner. Using only the peel give the benefit of the scent, but the peel will simply dry out so there is no fear of rotting. If you don’t like the idea of fresh fruits or peels at all, simply buy some citrus extract or essential oils and water them down. Spritz some on your tree and your kitty should stay away.
There’re some things to keep in mind for the tree if you’ve got pups as well. If you’ve got a fresh tree, make sure that the bowl of water is covered up so that your animals can’t drink from it. Preservative and other potential chemicals on the tree are harmful to both dogs and cats. Also make sure to clean up any fallen needles on a daily basis. If your pets ingest them, the sharp points on the ends of the needles may injure their digestive tract and the oils can cause irritation.
As far as decorations on the tree, avoid things like angel hair tinsel. It’s made of glass fibers that can cut the digestive tract and cause health issues if eaten. The same should be said of fake snow. Make sure to check the ingredient list and make sure that it’s non-toxic for your pets. And finally, make sure breakable ornaments are high up where they can’t be knocked down and do not place edible ornaments on the tree.
When guests come over for Christmas dinner, some people put their pets away. My family has multiple cats that end up locked in a bedroom, and two dogs that are also confined in a separate bedroom. For us, since we have a large family and a large number of pets, this minimizes the chance of the dogs and cats getting into anything they shouldn’t, being stepped on, or becoming over stimulated. But if you’re in a one pet household or just don’t like the idea of putting your pets away during the celebration, it’s important to keep a few things in mind during dinner.
Both dogs and cats should avoid almost all human foods, especially sweets and chocolate. Chocolate is especially toxic to both animals and should be kept far out of reach. Another, more surprising food group that should be avoided for dogs and cats is the onion family. This includes onions, chives, garlic etc. These foods can lead to damage of the red blood cells, making them more likely to rupture, which can cause anemia. Symptoms after ingestion of onions or garlic also include lethargy, breathlessness, diarrhea and vomiting.
If you just can’t resist giving your pup or kitty table scraps during the holidays, make sure you only give them small pieces of lean turkey, ensuring that it doesn’t contain any harmful spices or flavorings. Avoid letting them eat fatty pieces of meat, the skin of the turkey, ham, and any pan drippings or gravy.
If you think your pet has consumed any poisonous foods, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control line at (888) 426-4435. You can also call the Pet Poison Hotline at (800) 213-6680.