Pets are like family, so naturally they enjoy the holiday season as much as their owners—right? Hi, Fido here. While we surely love having the family home more and can’t get enough of the fireside snuggles, many holiday traditions could mean an emergency veterinary visit. Here’s how to keep us safe and merry this holiday season: 

#1: Place a barrier around the Christmas tree

Possibly the most popular holiday decoration is the beloved Christmas tree. I really don’t understand the appeal—I mean, why bring a living tree inside and cover it with all sorts of sparkly lights and tchotchkes? We see these trees every day on our walks and no one seems to care about them much the rest of the year. Nonetheless, my two-legged family members get a kick out of trimming the holiday tree. While it’s perfectly fine to have a live tree in your home with pets, you’ll need to ensure that we don’t drink its water, chew on its bristles, or mistake it for a fun climbing structure. By placing a barrier such as a baby gate around the tree’s perimeter, you can keep us safe from potentially toxic water, tummy upset, and a tumbling tree.

#2: Opt for pet-friendly holiday decor

For some reason, our pet parents love to bring out items resembling sleighs, reindeer, and a big, bearded man in a red suit this time of year. While I don’t understand any of this nonsense, it brings my owners joy, so I go along with it. However, when they unleash the shiny tinsel and sparkly string lights, my heart goes “pitter-patter”—they’re new toys especially for me, right? Wrong! These types of decorations, while pretty, can be especially appealing to curious pets like me, but they could end up tangled around our necks or stuck in our bellies. Sparkly lights are especially dangerous, with their additional risk of an electric shock. Consider reserving lights for outdoor use only and skip the tinsel this year. 

#3: Keep pets on a consistent diet

Trust me—this one was hard to swallow. While a nibble of lean turkey is OK for us occasionally, when you give us delectable tastes of rich, home-cooked foods laced with butter, cream, sugar, and fat, you put us at increased risk for some unpleasant conditions. Pancreatitis—a dangerous, extremely painful inflammation of the pancreas—can come about quickly in susceptible pets, and could result in an extendedand costlyhospital stay. Additionally, the habit of slipping your pets treats likely makes us gain weight and leads to obesity, already a big problem in the veterinary world. Remember, most pets are far, far smaller than their human counterparts, which means we can pack on the pounds with seemingly minimal snacks. Not to mention, many popular holiday ingredients, such as chocolate and raisins, are actually toxic to dogs like me. 

#4: Be prepared for a pet emergency

No pet parent expects a trip to the emergency veterinarian—I know that I never plan those kinds of things. But, since accidents happen and pets can be unpredictable, being prepared is essential. Start by keeping up-to-date records of all household pets, ensuring that vaccines are current, and any chronic conditions and medications are clearly listed. Next, program WesVet’s contact information in your smartphone, along with your nearest 24/7 veterinary emergency center. Lastly, prepare a small veterinary first aid kit complete with gauze, hydrogen peroxide, nitrile gloves, a digital thermometer, and an appropriate pet muzzle. 

#5: Leave pets like me out of the party plans

COVID-19 may have put a hamper on your holiday plans this year, but if you’re hoping to host or attend a small gathering, it’s probably best to keep me out of the picture. Not only can new people and loud noises cause me stress and anxiety, but I also may react unpredictably to new surroundings. Some pets may behave aggressively, while others may attempt to flee a stressful situation. Don’t wait to find out how your pet will react—leave pets at home, or, if you’ll be hosting the party, prepare a safe, quiet space for your pet away from the commotion. 

At WesVet, we love the holiday season as much as you do, which is why we’re urging owners to make pet-friendly decisions this time of year. Have a holiday-related question you’re yearning to ask? Contact our veterinary team.