Keep our pets safe during Christmas can be more complicated than it seems. Decorations, plants, gifts, Christmas lights, food... If you don't want to end up in the vet's emergency room, follow this tips for a safe Christmas with your pet.
Remember chocolate is toxic for both cats and dogs. If you want to spoil your pet, buy a special treat for pets. If it's low calorie, better.
Keep sweets away from your pet. Chocolate is toxic, as well as sugar and other sweeteners such as xylitol, common in sugar-free or low-sugar treats. Xylitol can cause liver failure and death in dogs.
Be careful with leftovers. You can share with your dog some Turkey, but never give him bones, cooked bones are dangerous. Avoid also salt and other toxic food like onions.
Careful with where you put the Christmas tree. Don't make it easy for your dog to stumble over it.
Keep an eye on Christmas lights. Some cats (and puppies) love to chew cables, they might receive an electric shock.
Christmas decorations can look attractive to some pets. If they try to play with them, take them off, the tree could fall over them. If they eat them, they could suffer and obstruction --which needs surgery.
Some plants such as Holly, Mistletoe or Poinsettia are toxic for pets. Keep them out of their reach.
Never leave your pet alone in a room with a lighted candle, it could end up with a fire.
When you leave home...
Disconnect the lights and blow the candles out.
Don't leave food on the kitchen counter.
Take the trash out.
If you are hosting...
Your pet must always have access to a quiet area. Make sure there is a room for him with his bed and some toys.
Inform your guests (if they don't know yet) that you have a pet, in case there is someone allergic. Also tell them anything they should know about your pet: what he likes, what he doesn't, if he can go out to the garden, if they should be careful when opening the door...
If your guests bring their own pets, make the presentations outside the house in case they are dogs. If they are cats, use a crate and allow them to smell each other first. Don't leave any toy or food around, so they won't fight, and make sure there are enough beds and water for all. Ask your vet if in doubt.
If your dog or cat gets stress, have a Kong, puzzle or bone-treat prepared, so they can relax.
Be careful with the coming and going. An open door is a chance to run away. In fact, it's a good time to microchip your pet if you haven't done it yet, and buy a tag to attach to their collar with your contact details.
If you are traveling...
Check with enough time the requirements of both your destination and the traveling company. Vaccinations or permissions may change. If you are leaving the country, ask the consulate or embassy.
If you are traveling by car and your pet is not used to it, start with short trips: to the park, to the vet, to the pet store... At least a week before.
Pack your pet's suitcase: some food, water for the trip, toys, treats, his or her bed... Whatever your pet might need.
If you cannot travel with your pet, find a pet sitter or a dog hotel. Make sure to visit the hotel in advance and ask all the possible questions you may have: how many times do they walk them a day, where do they sleep, is there always someone with them..? Also, go to the vet and check all the vaccinations are in order. You may want to vaccinate your dog against kennel cough.