Keeping your furry family members safe during the holiday festivities can be a difficult task. Whether you're traveling or celebrating at home this year, it's important to be mindful of your pet's well-being. From unhealthy treats and toxic plants to hazardous decorations and presents – the list is never ending. So how do you make sure you avoid an emergency trip to the veterinarian this holiday season?
Pet Behavior Expert and Training Manager at Camp Bow Wow, Erin Askeland, CPDT-KA can solve any of your holiday pet dilemmas.
Quick, Easy Ways to Pet-Proof Your Home for the Holidays
To truly pet-proof your home, start by getting down on the floor to see the world the way your pet sees it. This allows you to spot potential hazards that you might not notice from your vantage point.
- Treat your Pet like you would a Child: Active puppies and kittens can easily get into dangerous situations. Use safety gates in areas where dangerous holiday items are to prevent your pet from getting into trouble.
Take Caution with Wires:
Pets can easily injure themselves with electrical wires
,and outlets. Use caution when hanging up holiday lights on trees and around the house. Secure all electrical cords and outlets and keep your dog in areas of your home where cords cannot be accessed.
- Avoid Holiday Plants: Plants can be poisonous for pets, so be cautious when placing holiday wreaths, flowers and plants around the house where your dog can easily access them.
- Candles: Lit candles pose a serious threat to both your dog and your home. Keep your dog away from candles because they can easily be knocked down creating a fire hazard.
- Hide the Trash Can: A hyper puppy can easily knock over a trash can and spread garbage and bacteria throughout your home. In addition, dogs can choke on hazardous items so be sure to properly dispose of all holiday wrapping and keep it out of your dog's reach.
- Utilize a Sofa Cover: To avoid fur on your loveseat, use a seat or slipcover to avoid a mess before guests arrive.
- Be Careful with Fruit and Candy Baskets: Holiday treats will inevitably be present during this season, but grapes (and raisins), chocolate and other holiday treats are actually deadly for dogs. Candy wrappers can also be threatening to your dog, so be sure to throw away all wrappers in a place where your dog can't get to them.
Tips for Traveling with Pets:
- Flying with your pet: If you are going to take your pet on an airplane, it is important to determine whether your pet will need a crate or a carrier. Larger dogs will fly in a crate in the cargo, and smaller dogs that fit into a carrier can fly in the plane. Make sure you find out the requirements for your dog prior to booking your flight.
- Familiarize your pet with its crate or carrier: Pets like familiarity. If you plan on keeping your pet inside a carrier or crate while traveling, make purchases at least a month before travel to allow your pet ample time to get comfortable with the new environment. Place him or her in the carrier and provide some treats. Gradually lengthen the time your pet is in the crate or carrier until your pet seems at ease in its new space.
- Car Safety: It is important that we always think about the dog's safety while in your car. If you want it to sit on the seat, get your pup a dog seatbelt. It allows your dog to move around, but provides restraint in the case of an accident. If you have an SUV, you can buy a gate that keeps it from jumping from the back to the front.
- Feed your pet no less than five or six hours before traveling: It is very easy for your dog or cat to become sick during travel. Providing time for food to digest lessens the chances of your pet becoming ill.
- Find a pet-friendly hotel: And if you've got plans during the day, since most pet-friendly hotels will not allow pets to be left in the room alone, consider taking your dog to a nearby Camp Bow Wow® doggie day care facility or hire a Home Buddies by Camp Bow Wow® pet sitter to keep Fido company. Camp is open early in the morning until late in the evening, so your pup can play all day.
- Make your pet feel at home: Use familiar dishes, blankets, toys and other items from your home to create a sense of comfort for your pet.
- ...And if Fido can't travel with you, book him an overnight stay at one of Camp Bow Wows 100+ franchises across the country; you can even watch him while on-the-go via Camp Bow Wow's iPhone App, which has a web-cam feature that is hooked up at every location.
- Or let your pet stay at home, with Camp Bow Wow's "Home Buddies," which provides at-home visits for those who'd rather leave their dog at home while your family travels.
Tips on Keeping Your Dog Safe this Winter:
- Never let your dog off the leash in snow or ice. Although it may seem like a fun option to let your pup frolic in the snow, it can prove to be extremely dangerous. Dogs tend to lose their sense of smell in extremely cold weather and become lost. Believe it or not, winter has the highest rates for lost dogs!
- Thoroughly wipe down your dog when he comes back into the house after being in the snow. It is common for dogs to ingest salts for melting ice as well as anti-freeze, which can prove to be very toxic. Not only is ingesting toxins a problem, but snow being left between your dogs' toes can cause ice chunks to freeze on their fur, possibly causing your dog to rip their fur or pads.
- Use Dog-Friendly/Pet Safe Ice Melt whenever de-icing outdoors. Again, the toxins in most products are NOT safe for pets or humans to ingest.
- Similar to how you should never leave your dog in the car during the summer, the same goes for the winter; a car can act almost like a freezer in the winter, trapping heat outside and causing your pet to freeze to death. Likewise, a Shelter is always a necessity! Whether always an outdoor dog or just outside to play, make sure to have a shelter for them from the wind and snow.
- Consider getting your pup a seasonal jacket or sweater to help ensure they are both comfortable and fashionable as the temperatures drop.
- Fresh water is a must at all times, as your dog may be more likely to lick ice and eat snow if he/she is thirsty from lack of water. Similar to the above point, it is common for dogs to ingest snow-melting-salts and antifreeze.
Benefits of Holiday Pet Adoption:
- General Benefits - There's a reason that they say dog is man's best friend. Having a pet, not limited to dogs, is something that everyone should experience at some point in their life. Pets can be calming, mood lifting, empathetic, and so much more. They teach you how to be selfless and responsible as you are caring over another life (for those of you without children). Generally speaking, they make you happy.
- Stress Reduction - Some studies show that people begin to feel less anxious after spending less than an hour with an animal. There are endless benefits from lowering your stress level and while the things that we find stressful in our lives are often hard to cut out, including an animal in your life can help.
- Helps with Depression - In some cases, therapists suggest to patients suffering from depression that they adopt a pet. An animal will love you unconditionally and also be a great friend and listener. People with depression often benefit from having a pet, as the animal can help them get out of the house and out of their own head.
- Engaged Mind - A key to a healthy mind, especially for those who are elderly, is staying engaged with others. A pet is often a conversation starter and being out with a pet often warrants questions or comments from passersby. Bringing your dog to a dog park is a great way to meet other people with similar interests.