The do’s and don’ts for cats and dogs during the festive winter months.
At this time of year, it’s easy to be swept up in the spirit of the holidays. Friends and family are visiting, decorations are everywhere and delicious treats abound. If you love your dog or cat, you probably feel the urge to get him or her involved in all the festivities, too. To keep your cats and dogs safe during the holidays and ensure they have a fun time, follow these do’s and don’ts.
- Do keep a close eye on your pet during the holidays. When people are coming and going, it’s easy to lose track of your pet’s whereabouts. Pets can get into trouble or even run out of the house when you’re not looking. In addition, an open gate in the backyard could result in your dog getting loose.
- Do be sure your pets are wearing a collar with an identification tag. If they get out of the house or yard, they are much more likely to find their way home if they have an easy-to-read ID tag with your address and phone number. Also, consider having your pets microchipped before the holidays. This will help ensure they find their way home should a collar come off.
Do buy your pets presents for the holidays. Pet supply stores are full of all kinds of holiday toys and treats made just for dogs and cats. Holiday collars, leashes, sweaters and even hats can also help your pet be included in the festivities.
- Do try to maintain your pet’s normal routine through the holidays to help ease stress. If you walk your dog in the evenings, try to keep this up, even though you may be short on time. Even a brief 10 to 15 minute walk will help your dog feel like he’s still high on your priority list. Don’t forget to give your cat plenty of attention, too. With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, kitties can feel neglected. Take a few minutes each day to sit down with your cat and give her some petting.
- Do give your dog or cat a break from all the holiday commotion. If you have guests over and your pet isn’t used to a house full of people, consider sequestering her to another part of your home, where she can have some peace and quiet. This is especially true for cats, who are often overwhelmed by having to deal with a lot of strangers.
Don’t give your pet food from the table. Rich foods can make your pet sick to his stomach. Certain foods, like chocolate and grapes, can be toxic to dogs in large amounts. Even a small amount of gum or candy made with a natural sweetener called xylitol could be fatal to pets. Be sure your guests know the rules about feeding your cat or dog from the table.
- Don’t let your pet get into the holiday decorations. Tinsel on a Christmas tree is very tempting for cats, and if swallowed, can cause serious digestive obstruction. Eating pine needles can also make a cat sick. Dogs can be inclined to chew on Christmas ornaments or electrical cords.
With the right amount of care and supervision, your dogs and cat can have a great holiday season, right along with their human families. You might be surprised to discover just how much your pets enjoy this time of year.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com and hollywoodhoofbeats.net/