The holidays mean something different to everyone—including our pets. We may love including them in the holiday festivities, but sometimes we forget that what we think of as fun may not be much fun for them. Take some time to consider your holiday plans from your pet’s point of view. Our Bayview Animal Hospital team has some thoughts to share on common holiday scenarios from human and pet perspectives to help you ensure your pet stays safe and comfortable this season. 

Human perspective: Holiday gatherings are a time to celebrate with friends
Pet perspective: Why are these strangers in my house and how can I escape?

You may love to welcome friends and family into your home during the holidays, but also consider how the festivities will affect your pet. Large crowds of unfamiliar people, loud sounds, and changes in routine can throw many pets for a loop. Ensure your pet’s safety and comfort during holiday celebrations by taking the following actions:

  • Consulting your veterinarian — Some highly anxious pets may benefit from anti-anxiety medication or supplements to help them stay calm during a stressful event such as a holiday party. Check with your veterinarian to see if your pet would benefit from such medication.
  • Exercising your pet — Before your holiday celebration begins, take your pet for a walk to help them work off excess energy and ease their stress level.  
  • Keeping your pet secureWhen greeting your guests as they arrive, ensure your pet is confined to a bedroom, or behind a pet gate, so they cannot rush out through the open door. Ensure your pet has up-to-date ID tags on their collar in case they do escape or, better yet, have them microchipped by your veterinarian. Microchipping provides permanent identification that links to your contact information if your lost pet is turned into animal control, a shelter, or a veterinary hospital. 
  • Provide a safe space — A quiet, safe, and secluded space works wonders for an anxious pet during holiday celebrations. Designate a room or area of the house away from the commotion, and include food, water, a comfortable bed, and your pet’s favorite toys. Calming music and pheromone sprays also can help keep your pet relaxed. 

Human perspective: I’ll do the dishes later
Pet perspective: I’ll clean up those leftovers right now

After spending hours cooking a holiday meal and serving it to your guests, the last thing you want to do is clean up. However, if you leave plates out with scraps of food on them, your pet will be happy to clean them up for you. Unfortunately, many of the ingredients in popular holiday dishes are toxic for pets and can cause serious health problems if ingested. Foods that can be dangerous for pets include:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Xylitol
  • Fatty foods
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Onions, garlic, and chives
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Uncooked bones
  • Yeast dough

To avoid an unexpected trip to the emergency vet, clean up quickly after eating, and ensure your trash cans are closed and secure. If your pet does consume potentially toxic food, immediately contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for emergency guidance. 

Human perspective: The more holiday decorations the better
Pet perspective: Look at all these new chew toys to play with

Your pet can be as curious as a child when it comes to holiday decorations and may view them as chew toys. However, many common decorations can be hazardous to your pet, including:

  • Holiday lights — Electric cords can burn or shock pets if they chew on them, so ensure the cords are tucked away or placed out of reach.
  • Glass ornaments — Broken glass can lacerate a pet’s paw pads and mouth, while pets who chew or ingest sharp ornaments may experience gastrointestinal upset, damage, or blockage.
  • Tinsel, garland, and string — Pets may chew and swallow these, causing sickness or an intestinal obstruction, which could require surgical removal.
  • Candles — Curious pets may burn themselves, or start a fire with their wagging tail. 
  • Decorative plants — Many popular holiday plants, such as mistletoe and holly, are toxic to pets. Ensure your house plants are not toxic to your pet by checking the ASPCA toxic plant list, and keep all plants out of your pet’s reach. 

There’s one perspective that you and your pet do share, however—a healthy pet is a happy pet. No matter what your holiday plans look like, make time for preventive health care by contacting Bayview Animal Hospital to schedule your pet’s annual wellness exam.