Pet enthusiasts think of their pets as their children; wanting to involve them in every family activity possible, including holiday celebrations. This can be a wonderful means of enjoying one’s pets. Here are 5 ways to insure that your pets remain safe while participating in your seasonal activities including several ways that you can do things your pet might prefer, which you will also find enjoyable.
Decorate with Pet Proofing in Mind
Dogs and cats will always be curious about new objects in their environment. A Christmas Tree is always a novel curiosity, as are bunting, ribbons, tinsel, candles and Poinsettias. Any of these objects can be dangerous to pets. Here are some tips allowing you to enjoy these holiday decorations but also keep your pet safe.
· Place a barrier around the Christmas Tree to prevent your dog from getting near. This will prevent the destruction of ornaments and gifts, urination on the tree, toppling of the tree, and ingestion of decorations. · If you have cats do not allow them in the same room as the tree without constant observation. Dangling ornaments are a huge temptation and the tree may appear to be a new feline gym. · Use non-toxic decorations. Anything dangling is attractive to animals. Wrap bunting tightly around banisters and railings. · Never leave candles lit unless you are there with them. If you must leave the room for only a couple seconds, blow them out. · Do not bring poisonous plants into your home. Poinsettias are very poisonous to animals. Leaving them in high places can still pose a danger, as cats love to dig in dirt and chew leaves.
Keep Holiday Apparel Comfortable
Most pets are acclimated to wearing collars and coats. Few are comfortable with hats, glasses and booties. It is fun to purchase antlers, jingle bells and other holiday costumes for our pets, but they will not appreciate them as much as you may. If your intention is to temporarily dress up your pet for holiday pictures, be sure to make it as positive an experience as possible. Don’t’ suddenly place the items on your pet; acclimate slowly using lots of positive reinforcement along the way. If you want to keep it pet-friendly, try holiday patterned collars – without bells and pet coats for walking outside in cold weather.
Visitors Should Be Introduced
Many animals can become frightened of new people entering their territory; especially cats. The resulting anxiety can create behavioral problems that might become annoying. A feline with anxiety might scent mark. A frightened dog may bark too much, mess in the house or become destructive.
Engage your pet in the greeting process.
· When new people walk into your home, offer your pet high value treats. · Give some of these treats to the visitors and ask them to also offer the treats to your pets. This will give your pets a positive association with the new people. Also instruct your visitors to not chase after your pets. · Allow the animals to approach the new people on their own initiative. This is especially important if children visit. They tend to move quickly and have high excited voices. They also love to hug animals. All of these things can be very threatening to animals, so be certain to observe and instruct the children accordingly. (See Teaching Children How to Greet Animals)
The Weather May Be Frightful, But To Your Dog It’s Delightful
Most dogs love playing in the snow! If you take your dog for relief walks, you have a great opportunity to enjoy it with him. Make snowballs and throw them. Dogs who love playing fetch will thoroughly enjoy this game. Use this opportunity to dress up your dog in his holiday fashions – coat, booties and jingle bells. He’ll step out in style and you’ll enjoy all the attention he attracts.
Dress warmly so that the two of you can build snow forts, tunnels and snow angels.
After the outdoor games both of you will want to rest by the warmth of the hearth.
Holiday Treats Safe to Eat
Animals have different digestive systems than humans. Certain foods that are delicious to us, can be very harmful to them. Be sure to keep all candies – especially chocolate, in closed pet-proof containers. Sometimes a high location or Tupperware container is not sufficient as they can still smell the food and may find a means to obtain it. Put these items in cupboards, drawers or closets until you intend to eat them.
Do not leave your holiday meals unattended in the kitchen or dining areas; unless your animals are safely contained elsewhere. The smells of turkey and the other fixings are often to attractive to ignore. Just as your Uncle, or Niece might steal a nibble, your pet may also attempt this sneaky trick. The results can be disastrous.
Always be aware of where your pet is and what he/she is doing when you are entertaining others. If you cannot do so, the animal should be safely contained – with a new pet-friendly holiday treat, of course.