The holiday is an extra special time of year, especially for pets and pet owners. Pet owners often hang stockings for their dogs and cats and spend $5 billion on holiday presents for their loyal companions. It can really be the happiest time of the year… so long as you can navigate the common stressors of family gatherings, schedule upheavals, and traveling, which can be overwhelming during the holiday season. We’ve assembled some common dangers and stressors that pet owners face during the holidays, and each one has a list of tips on how to prevent them. Send these tips out to your clients, and they’ll thank you for their most relaxing holiday season ever.
Travel: Know the Rules and Regulations
Traveling with pets is no easy feat, especially if the pet isn’t used to traveling. Remind your pet parents to ask themselves these questions before they plan to leave on a trip with their pet:
- Do I have my pet’s health certificate? You will need one for interstate and international travel, even if you’re going by car.
- Do I have a safe way to restrain my pet in my car? According to barkbuckleup.com, a 60 lb. dog traveling at 35 mph can turn into a 2,700 lb. projectile in an accident. Be sure to use a crate while driving to make sure your pet is safe in case of an accident. While there are many harnesses and doggy seatbelts on the market, these typically do not provide adequate protection in the case of a crash, and only serve to keep the pet from moving all around the car.
- If I’m traveling by air, have I asked the vet if air travel safe for my pet? Air travel can be risky for some pets, like short-nosed dogs, so owners should consult with their vet before taking off by air. While carrier requirements vary between airlines, there are a variety of approved pet carriers for all airlines.
- If I’m boarding my dog while I leave, do I know how to protect him from canine flu? Is he up-to-date on his vaccines? You don’t want your dog to catch a disease from a fellow boarder or a relative’s pet.
Food: Resist Your Pet’s Cute Begging Face
For almost any pet, a day in paradise includes eating all the human food they want. Unfortunately, human food at the holidays can be even more dangerous to pets than usual.
Remind your clients to keep these foods away from their pets:
- Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromide and caffeine, both of which are toxic to pets in large quantities (it is toxic for a dog to consume 10% of its body weight in chocolate).
- Baked goods: Baked goods may contain xylitol. Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and can lead to low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, and even death.
- Fruits: Fruits like grapes, raisins, and currants also pop up in holiday baking, and they cause sudden kidney failure in dogs and possibly cats and ferrets as well.
- Yeast dough: If you make your baked goods with yeast dough, watch out. Yeast dough can cause dangerous bloating and painful gas for your pet.
- Turkey and turkey skin: These tasty foods have been known to cause pancreatitis in pets, even in small amounts
If your pet has been poisoned, he may exhibit these symptoms: “gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, staggering, disorientation, convulsions, lethargy, loss of appetite, twitching, dilated pupils, ulcers, heart palpitations, and coma.”
Call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (1-888-426-4435) if you think your pet has been poisoned. A fee may apply.
Tree: Preparation Is the Key
Oh, Christmas Tree, how lovely are your branches—and how dangerous is everything else! Have your clients take these factors into consideration when putting up and maintaining their Christmas tree:
- If you have a live tree, don’t add aspirin, sugar, or anything else to the tree’s water. You don’t want your pet lapping that up.
- Pine needles, if ingested, can puncture your pet’s intestines, so be vigilant about vacuuming those babies up.
- When decorating with tinsel, keep it up high. Tinsel can block their intestines, and the only solutions are surgical.
Other Decor: Hide It, Secure It, or Don’t Buy It at All
Some decorations are must-haves. But there are some decorations it may be best to avoid bringing into your home at all. Help your clients choose wisely with these suggestions:
- Candles are so lovely, but if a curious pet knocks one over, the consequences can be deadly. Be sure to always supervise lit candles.
- If your pet chews through electric cords, she may receive an electric shock and burn her mouth. What can you do? Dr. Patty Khuly, VMD, says, “Covering [electric cords] with heavy-duty plastic liners helps, but during the holidays I’ve taken to using twinkly indoor lights powered by batteries. There’s only so much damage a pet can do chewing through these.”
- Some favorite holiday plants—including holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia—are poisonous to dogs or cats. If you plan to decorate with these plants, keep them in an area they can’t reach. Or opt for tasteful artificial versions.
Guests: Care for Your Pet’s Emotional Health, Too
Pets can become stressed when guests suddenly make their environment busier and noisier than usual. Help your clients keep everyone safe with these tips:
- Set aside a comfortable, quiet place for your pet to escape the commotion. This could be a room or a crate—anywhere your pet knows he can go when the party becomes overstimulating.
- Make sure your guests know that you have pets or that other guests will be bringing pets. The AVMA says, “Guests with allergies or compromised immune systems (due to pregnancy, disease, or medications/ treatments that suppress the immune system) need to be aware of the pets (especially exotic pets) in your home so they can take any needed precautions to protect themselves.”
Pets bring so much joy, and your clients want to be able to embrace that joy, confident that their pets are safe. When you help your clients keep their travels, food, tree, decorations, and home environments safe for their pets, they’ll know you care, and they’ll make an appointment as soon as the new year rolls around.
Fetch. wishes you are your family a happy holiday season and a happy new year! We hope you stay healthy and safe this holiday season and make wonderful memories with your family and friends.