For many families during the holiday season, dogs and cats are part of the festivities and may even receive a present. A pet’s health and safety are still important to consider while planning for holidays. The Pet Food Institute (PFI), which provides information about pet food safety, nutrition and health to pet lovers year-round, here explores holiday-related issues that can impact a pet’s health and provides tips on how to prevent potential problems.
Leave the Leftovers
While it may be tempting to feed pets table scraps or holiday leftovers, or offer their pet treats as a special gift. It is recommended that no more than 10 percent of a pet’s caloric intake come from treats. Approximately 20 percent of U.S. dogs and 28 percent of U.S. cats are obese, which can lead to multiple health problems.
Feeding pets table scraps can also encourage undesirable behaviors, such as begging or jumping up at the table. It’s important to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans. Common human food ingredients that can cause health problems in a cat or dog include chocolate, onions, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, caffeinated beverages and alcohol. When ingested, pets can suffer from upset stomachs, cardiovascular problems and even kidney failure.
When deciding between a pine or a faux tree, make sure to consider how a furry family member will react, and securely anchor your tree so it doesn’t tip or fall. Holiday tree ornaments and decorations are also important for pet lovers to consider. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), ornaments, sparkly tinsel, gingerbread men and popcorn garland can be irresistible toys or treats for cats and dogs, yet can lead to major health issues if digested. When decorating the tree, remember to keep ornaments out of reach and use more pet-friendly decorations whenever possible.
In addition, pine needles, holly, mistletoe and poinsettias can be toxic or otherwise dangerous for pets. Make sure to keep plants out of reach of pets or choose artificial decorations.
Ring in the New Year
Large groups of people, noisemakers, and fireworks can make pets anxious or scared. Animals hear at different frequencies than humans, and loud noises can be much more disturbing than many people consider. If hosting a New Year’s gathering, avoid the noise makers and ensure that your pet has a safe, quiet place to retreat to when they need a break from the activity.