How to Keep Your Pet Safe this Holiday Season

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The scenario is straight out of a movie—a bright-eyed lover or child opens up a box and out comes a happy pet with a red holiday bow tied around its neck. It’s love at first sight, and they can’t wait to get acquainted with their new best friend. They eagerly feed them table scraps, and by the next day, they’re hastily booking a visit for the vet as their new friend keeps throwing up and refusing to eat.

In the rush of obtaining an elaborate gift during a busy holiday, some people may not do proper research for a new furry, scaly, or feathered friend.  For this upcoming season, here are safety tips for new pet adopters along with reminders for the well-accustomed.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) warns that these popular holiday foods are especially hazardous for pets:

  • Chocolate
  • Baked goods and sweets, including “artificial sweetener, candy, and chewing gum”
  • Turkey and turkey skin
  • Table scraps, including “gravy, meat fat, onions, raisins, grapes”
  • Yeast dough

Depending on the type of animal and breed, pets can have varying degrees of allergic reaction or be poisoned by “people food.” Owners should make sure to find out the unique foods their pet can and cannot have along with symptoms of the animal reacting to a bad food.



The AVMA also warns against these popular holiday hazards:

  • Christmas trees, including “lights, chords, and ornaments”
  • Festive plants and flowers, including “mistletoe and holly”
  • Holiday decorations, especially tinsel
  • Lit candles, open fire, and potpourris
  • Water additives like for a Christmas tree

Pets can easily burn themselves on lights or cause an electrical fire if they chew on cables. Owners should make sure their pet does not knock over, choke on, or digest decorations.

According to the AVMA’s 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, 56% of households had a pet and 63.2% percentage of pet owners considered them to be family members. It’s a reasonable expectation for pets to meet lots of faces and other pets as people visit family and friends. To lessen emotional stress from all the excitement, the AVMA recommends taking precaution:

  • Accommodating a quiet retreat away from guests
  • Allowing time to track visiting pets so they can get acquainted with yours
  • Clearing food off serving areas and moving trash where pets can’t reach it
  • Informing potential guests of your pet in case of allergies or compromised immune systems
  • Watching exits so pets don’t escape if doors are frequently opening and making sure pets have identification tags and microchips in case they sneak out

The best precaution for keeping any pet healthy is a large dose of attention and care, so make sure to love on your pet this season. Do you have any more safety tips or holiday pet stories? Let us know!

Destini "D.K." Billins is a graduate from the University of Georgia who describes herself as a transmedia professional and writer. She has a passion for all things involving media and social progress, but most importantly, she has a really cute Shih Tzu named Titan.

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