The holidays can present multiple challenges for pets and parents both naughty and nice.
Thanksgiving means your home may be full of chattering guests and family members, and how will your dogs respond to eight tiny reindeer clattering onto the lawn on Christmas Eve?
Chances are Santa and his crew will be met with barking. Lots of barking. And that’s Santa Claus we’re talking about – the jolly old elf himself. How might your pups respond to lots of strangers at the punch bowl? The cousin who pulls their tails? Can your cats resist the gaily wrapped gifts? The halls decked with holly? And the Christmas tree. O, cat in the Christmas tree. It’s a towering monument to mischief.
With a few simple steps, you can pet-proof your home before the holidays jump off, and get ready for holiday guests. Here are some tips for keeping pet spirits bright during the most wonderful time of the year.
Bark control. When guests arrive for Thanksgiving dinner or the neighborhood carolers come calling (or you’re receiving your 12th Amazon package of the day), one way to stave off barking is the PetSafe® Spray Bark Collar. Once acclimated to the collar, your dog will take a break from barking with a simple spray or static correction.
- Talk turkey. Nobody wants to harsh a mellow holiday mingle, but diplomatically warn your guests against feeding your pets table scraps or other treats from the banquet table. This is especially important if your pets already have digestive issues. Keep the turkey – which can be bad for dogs in its seasoned, juicy, succulent Thanksgiving form -- and cranberries on the table and out of reach, lest you find yourself picking up the pieces left behind by the Bumpus dogs.
Keep an eye on the human kids. Children are drawn to dogs and cats, and that’s a good thing. There is an element of risk to approaching even the most loving pets, however, if kids pull tails or fur. This is doubly true if food or bones are involved, so make sure your guests know to keep their kids at a distance from your pets.
- Deck the halls wisely. There are hundreds of plants dangerous for pets to eat. American holly is one of them, as is mistletoe, so figure out another way to sneak a kiss. (That tradition is kind of creepy, anyway). Even nonpoisonous ornamentals present a risk, because fibrous plant matter can tangle up pets’ guts.
- Safe space. Some pets get so wound up by company you should identify a safe space for your dogs to avoid over-stimulation. This can be a bedroom, bonus room or anywhere your guests won’t go. Poke your head in occasionally to give a pep talk to your pups. Provide some PetSafe® calming dog toys to keep them occupied. Make sure your cat stays away from the front door so she doesn’t make a break for it amid the holiday hullabaloo. Ensure your pet is microchipped or has an updated identity collar should he or she dart away into the silent night.
- Beware sugar plum fairies. Holiday goodies are everywhere, so keep your cats and dogs away from the stockings hung with such care. Chocolate is bad for dogs and cats, for instance, even in small doses. Their bodies can’t easily metabolize an alkaline -- called theobromine -- found in chocolate. The larger your dog, the more chocolate it takes to sicken him, so don’t panic if he sneaks a stray miniature that may have escaped a stocking. Keep an eye out for signs of intense gastrointestinal distress and tremors. Small dogs or cats who consume large amounts of chocolate should receive veterinary care as soon as possible. Other Christmas goodies are a no-go, too. Sugar and artificial sweeteners can stress the liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal system. Keep those candy canes and fudge out of reach, or consider a PetSafe® dog avoidance system or indoor barrier, such as the Pawz Away® Indoor Pet Barrier.
- Pet costumes. Cats and dogs alike can get tangled in costumes that are too ornate or have a lot of dangling parts. Consider keeping it simple with an ugly pet Christmas sweater, or perhaps a fetching pair of faux reindeer antlers.
- Fire danger. Make sure your Christmas candles are safely out of reach. A curious kitty or sniffy dog could knock a candle from its perch and cause a fire.
- Christmas trees. Consider securing your tree with twine or wire so it’s not toppled by curious felines or a nosy dog. Keep an eye on ornaments; dogs may chomp them and ingest sharp shards or toxic coatings. One way to effectively designate an area as off-limits is to use a pet deterrent. PetSafe® SSSCAT® Spray Pet Deterrent delivers a safe but effective spray to train your dog to avoid areas such as Christmas trees, countertops or furniture. Check out other PetSafe® pet deterrent systems to find one that best suits the needs of you, your dog and your family.
PetSafe® can empower you to help your furry family members get through this stressful time on their best behavior.
The dog is asleep in front of the roaring fireplace, paws twitching. The kitten is looking out the window in wonder at the snow. Your family is together, happy and healthy.