It’s holiday time. We’re officially into Black Friday. I like the TV commercial were a soft toy, a pink soft toy, wants to know why it’s called BLACK Friday… cause, she wants it to be pink Friday. Pink is nice, wouldn’t you agree? Pink is friendly, approachable, innocent, and full of spring.
Black Friday is just another day at my house. We don’t do the big shopping thing at our house – we favor spending time with our pets. I bet you do, too.
However, we have several more weeks of holiday time ahead of us. Full of possible danger, along with all the fun. At BlogPaws, the community will be posting fun pictures of dogs and cats dressed up in their best Christmas outfits, or pictures showing the pets opening presents, sharing treats (yes, our pets know how to share!), and other colorful images full of laughter and happiness. It’s a great time of year, no matter where you live or what pets you have. It’s even fun for folks who are not traditionally Christian – many people get into the holiday spirit and join in all the glitter and colored lights, embracing the spirit of the season.
Folks with small children and pets need to take a few cautions, during the weeks of this holiday season. Too many problems lurk in corners – ready to crush the fun and joy of family gatherings and picture taking. To avoid sudden tears or worries, here are 10 Ways To Make Your Holiday Safe with Pets:
- Be aware. Your pets are unique to your house and your activities. When holiday-time changes the daily routine, prepare them slowly. Understand and relate to each pet with a personal focus. At our house, Emily, our hound, can take the changes and company and new smells, with little worry. But, Olive, our Boston Terrier, tends to get frightened with change. And Molly is okay as long as she’s with Tom. We try to prepare each one of them differently. In some cases, with dogs especially, a separate room, where they can feel safe, is called for. Don’t forget to leave a bowl of fresh water in there, if you do confine them to a safe room.
- Don’t hesitate to ask guests to behave, also. So, if there is a safe room, make sure adults know not to enter it, and find a way to keep curious kids out by locking the door. Always remember to check on the pet during the day – every couple of hours, at least.
- For households that allow pets to stay out and about, like ours, the goal is to keep candy, cookies, even table scraps out of the mouths of dogs and cats! I expect you need to do so for ferrets and other furred animals, also. We folks at BlogPaws know the nutritional needs of our pets, pretty well. But, many families still think table food is okay for pets. Carol Bryant, the BlogPaws PR Manager and popular blogger at Fidose of Reality says, “Keep chairs pushed in: Smaller pets can jump up and grab food or knock over candles. Don’t assume people food is good for pets: This is not always the case.”
- Tinsel is dangerous for cats. They love it, but cats could chew on it, swallow it, and choke. No tinsel. And watch out for other items like ribbons or small toys or small decorations. Your pets don’t know these items are not eatable. “Our data shows that most pet holiday accidents or injuries are related to pets eating people food or other holiday objects, such as tinsel, holiday houseplants, ornaments and ribbon,” said Dr. McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI.
- Our partner site, petMD has a great slide show demonstrating objects to be aware of, and one of them is our favorite holiday decoration…the Christmas Tree! Who knew?
“Some dogs tend to jump up a lot and may jump into the tree, knocking it over, breaking precious ornaments, and possibly injuring themselves. Cats have been known to climb into Christmas trees, causing the same effects.”
- According to this research, burning some aromatherapy candles can be toxic to us all! This is distressing to me because I love scented candles.
“Burning an aromatherapy candle made of paraffin is similar to preparing a healthy drink of fresh squeezed juice and adding a shot of gasoline,” says Eric Johnson of Candleworks, an Iowa City, Iowa based company that specializes in wholesaling nontoxic aromatherapy candles. My sources tell me vegetable based candles and beeswax candles are your best bet. JUST BE CAREFUL to burn them where your cat or dog cannot knock them over! And don’t leave a candle burning when you leave the house…for any reason! A burning candle is an invitation to disaster!
- Planning ahead for pet sitters is crucial! We’re fairly knowledgeable at BlogPaws. We know many of the points being made here, and yet some of us forget to update our information for pet sitters. We forget to write down medications and nuances, or what’s changed since the pet sitter last visited. What if you have a new cell phone number? What if your dog or cat has developed a hearing problem? At our house, we’re planning a trip home and when our own Chloe isn’t watching the pets, a sitter will be here. A *new* sitter. That means updating what I call The Book of Emily, Olive and Molly. It contains any new health issues, any new medications, things I want to remind the pet sitter, the veterinarian’s office number, and feeding instructions. By having this available on the counter, that first day the sitter comes to see the fur-kids, I can enjoy my trip in a more relaxed manner. If nothing has changed, write a little note to let the pet sitter know nothing has changed!
- I have a special affinity for deaf dogs. Our own BlogPaws Campaign Manager, Bernard Lima-Chavez of Dog and His Boy, is somewhat of an expert in this as he has worked tirelessly with his dogs to make sure they are safe all year long. I asked him to share some advice for pet parents whose pets are deaf. This is mostly for dogs, but can apply to deaf pets of any sort! “All the commotion of the holiday can cause a deaf dog to startle, especially the nervous ones! Here’s what I do – I explain to visitors that they shouldn’t touch the dog from behind; always make eye contact first! Second, if I was allowing my deaf dog at the pawty or gathering, I would keep him busy with a treat puzzle or favorite toy. When he’s ready to mingle, I would likely tether him to me. My deaf dogs are all tether trained. It’s an easy way to join the festivities and still keep them safe…and close.”
Keep the front door closed! Or, at least restrain your dog or cat or ferret or other precious pet, when guests are arriving! As noted in #1, each pet reacts to the hustle and bustle of the holiday party you’re having, differently. The ones that panic, could dart out that open door and then you’ll be in a pickle! There is little in our lives worse than losing a beloved pet when he or she has escaped because of our own neglect. It’s easy enough to make sure the pets cannot get to the front door. Being aware of the possibility of losing one of them should give you enough incentive to put a gate up or put the pet in a safe place, away from the door!
- The very last thing I am going to recommend is to take time out to spend with your pet. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season. Yes, there are gifts to buy and exchange; delights to bake; parties to attend or host; and many other things to do. Despite our best efforts, our pets are still animals, not people. You can explain all you want, about how you have to do this or that or go here and there… and your dog or cat will blink at you in confusion. They don’t understand. They only know you’ve suddenly become too busy for them. Too busy to take them for a walk, or too busy to play or too busy to even give them their normal treats and cuddle time. “Tomorrow!” you’ll promise as you rush out the door. And then, tomorrow comes and the unhappiness shining in their eyes is doubled by watching you run off yet again. Don’t do it. Spend time with them. Your party will wait. Your presents or coffee or whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing, will wait.
- BONUS!!! And, if you give your pets gifts, make the gifts appropriate, throw all wrapping away immediately after opening the gifts, and don’t take too many photos. Every photo you take, takes a few minutes more of the time you could be spending on the floor… laughing your tail off… with the best pets on the planet.