A big thank you to BarknBig for guest writing this blog, as part of our monthly Business Partner Program. BarknBig manufactures premium canine treats and chews, and is located in Loveland, CO. They can be reached at Barknbig.com and (970) 663-4561.

As we inch toward this year’s holiday season, it’s a good time to think about our pets and what the holidays look like through their eyes.  By taking a virtual walk in our pets’ shoes, we can proactively anticipate what we, as pet parents, can do to help keep them safe, happy, and healthy.

The Sights & Sounds of Christmas

To most pets, Santa Claus and Christmas trees are foreign visitors.  Even though pets may have seen these invaders last year, that was a whole year ago!  Some pets will need to reacquaint themselves to remember that they are inanimate objects that mean them no harm.

Christmas music is nice, and most pets don’t react at all.  Loud talking, however, can cause cats and dogs to lash out and do unfriendly things to house guests – especially when it’s a lot of people talking loud at the same time.  Planning in advance to create a quiet place for pets to relax will magically melt the over-stimulating sounds of the season.  Good suggestions include a closed-off bedroom or a comfy crate that’s been draped with a blanket.  Add to that a white-noise machine.  If your pet is a dog, give them a long-lasting chew or bone which will help distract and soothe their anxiety.

Next is small children.  Very young children – and even older children who aren’t used to being around dogs or cats – tend to make quick movements toward pets.  From a pet’s perspective, these can be threatening behaviors, as is pulling tails, or pursuing a pet that is trying to flee to safety.  Even well-adjusted pets can reach their limits over the holidays.  Having a plan that allows pets to participate in the festivities for a while, and then moving them to a quiet place to retreat will prevent injuries (to children and pets) and will make the holidays a lot more enjoyable for everyone.

No one wants to think about some of the dangers of Christmas, but they’re out there.  Yes, we need to be sure that we don’t over-do the treats, but more dangerous to pets than too many treats is anything toxic:

Holiday Plants – Most people know that poinsettias and felines are a bad combination.  Other holiday plants that are dangerous to pets include mistletoe, holly, evergreens, azaleas, and lilies.  Cats are especially vulnerable to lilies which can cause kidney failure if ingested.  If you are gifted with live plants that could harm your pets, it may be a good idea to bring them to your office at work, or re-gift them as hostess gifts as you visit friends and family during the holidays.

Christmas Decorations – Broken glass ornaments, tinsel, extension cords, and strings of lights top the list of holiday decorations that pose threats to our pets most often.

  • Hang glass ornaments up high or, better yet, swap glass ornaments with the beautiful plastic options that have come on the market in recent years.
  • Garland is a good substitute for tinsel.
  • Extension cords and strings of lights can cause electrical shock if your pet’s teeth make contact with the wires. Hide all the cords you can, and use cord covers or wrap cords with two-sided tape to deter curiosity.

Christmas Trees!  Cats love to climb Christmas trees – it’s what they do!  Besides a tree that can fall on your pet and potentially harm them, there is another danger that can be especially appealing to both cats and dogs which most pet parents don’t think about:  tree water!  If the water for your live Christmas tree has any type of fertilizer in it, it can be especially toxic.  What to do?  Cover your tree stand with aluminum foil to prevent easy access to the water.

Batteries – Curious pets have an uncanny ability to sniff out and taste-test things – including batteries that may have exposed acid.  Anything battery-operated that could be within your pet’s reach should be checked to make sure batteries are intact and not corroding.  Pay special attention to new packages of batteries that may have been included with new gifts to ensure they are accounted for and out of reach until they’re needed.

Rock Salt / Ice Melt – These two items are irritants to your pet’s paw pads.  Dogs that walk on surfaces that have been treated with rock salt or ice melt will likely lick their irritated paws once they return home from a walk.  As they lick their paws to soothe the irritation, they will inevitably consume some of the chemicals that they picked up during their outdoor adventure.  To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to keep a towel (or even a container of moistened baby wipes) near the door.  Dogs’ paws can be wiped immediately which keeps them safe, and this simple step also keeps pet parents’ floors cleaner.  Dogs are surprisingly adaptable to having their paws wiped off as soon as they come inside, and many will learn to offer up their paws if they know that a delicious treat awaits them as soon as they’re finished.

Wishing you the very best as you ring in the holiday season with friends, family members, and your most precious fur babies.  Cheers to keeping all our pets safe!