Cat and Dog with Santas Claus hatsSupervise, Supervise, Supervise

The holidays bring food, Christmas trees, gifts and colorful wrapping, but supervising your pet is especially important during festivities.

Friends and family gather together and can often forget family pets who are running about enjoying the holidays as well. Trees are a feature in almost every home and must be closely observed. Tree water additives can be toxic to animals and it’s often too easy to sneak a drink when no one is looking. Mistletoe and poinsettias are poisonous to pets as well.

Tinsel and small ornaments are also a concern. Cats in particular like tinsel and rawhide is not a good choice for dogs. Dogs can choke on almost any treat and should be supervised—rawhide can be dangerous. Instead, choose a long-lasting chew-safe toy. Buy treats and pet items that are made in the U.S.A. as items from other countries are often not closely regulated and can contain harmful chemicals.

Turkey and other holiday foods are plentiful and it can be tempting to give pets treats and bones. Go easy on rich foods as your pet may suffer an stomach upset and never give cooked or small bones to your furry friends.

Here are useful tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association:

  • Keep people food out of the reach of your pet and ask your guests to do the same
  • Make sure your pet doesn’t have any access to treats, especially those containing chocolate, xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions or other toxic foods
  • Don’t leave your pet alone in the room with lit candles, a decorated tree or potpourri
  • Keep holiday plants (especially holly, mistletoe and lilies) out of reach of pets
  • Consider leaving the tinsel off your tree if you have a cat
  • Secure your Christmas tree to keep it from falling over if your dog bumps it or your cat climbs it; hanging lemon-scented car air fresheners in the tree may deter your cat from climbing it

If your pet is excitable or scared when you have company, consider putting your pet in another room with some of his/her toys, a comfortable bed, etc. or providing a safe place for your pet to escape the excitement (such as a kennel, crate, perching place, scratching post shelf or hiding place).

Good Gifts for Pets

People can be tempted to give the gift of love to someone in the form of a snugly kitten or a puppy, but this is not a good idea. Getting a pet should be a family decision based on good research instead of emotional impulses. However, there are many good gift choices to give to someone who owns a pet. Pet ID tags, a spay or neuter certificate to a vet, dental treats formulated just for dogs and scratching posts for cats are all good gift ideas. Have a safe and happy holiday for all of your family this season!


Andrea is a former Vet Tech in the Treasure Valley area, has her own farm and has taken classes and workshops through the Treasure Valley Sheep Producers and is a consultant with the Caine Veterinary Teaching Center. Andrea Scott writes about animal health, nutrition and the western way of life for D&B Supply.

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