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How to protect your pets this holiday season

Posted: December 8th, 2017 | Columns, Featured, Lifestyle, Pets | No Comments

By Sari Reis

With the holidays right around the corner, it is important to remember not only the joys of the season but also the potential risks for your pets.

Here is an abbreviated list of things to keep in mind to ensure your furry kids stay safe and happy during all the excitement.

(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

1. Visitors: During the holidays, there are often a lot of people coming in and out of your home. If your pets are well-socialized, they will probably enjoy the extra attention; however, if they are shy of strangers, this change can be disturbing for them. Fear can cause an animal to bolt out of the house. To prevent this, keep skittish animals in a closed area away from the door.

2. Home decorations: Decorating for the holidays is fun, but it can pose as a danger to your pets. Christmas trees with glass balls and tinsel, Hanukkah menorahs with candles, and a host of other adornments can pose as major hazards for dogs and cats. Please keep your furry companions in mind when you are deciding which ornamentations you are going to use. Lilies are highly toxic to cats; if they eat any part of the lily plant, it could be fatal. Poinsettias and holly berries also make cats sick, so keep these out of reach if you have felines.

3. Food: Holiday time means special treats like candy, chocolates, nuts and fruits. Many of the foods we love to eat, such as chocolate, can be poison to our pets. Be sure to keep all of these goodies away from your cats and dogs. Also, although your pet may enjoy a small morsel of turkey or some other food from the holiday meal, table scraps should be limited. Instead, get a special chew toy or healthy treat specifically designed for pets to let them munch on while you enjoy your feast.

4. Overnight guests: Family members and friends from out of town often stay at our homes during the holidays. Be sure to fill them in on the personalities and behaviors of your pets. Make them aware that doors and gates must be closed quickly as they enter and exit your home. Inform them that any food or treats should not be given without your consent. Warn them to be sure not to leave any personal items out where the pets may find and ruin them. Remind them to never leave any medications out on night tables or counters.

5. Change in routine: Dogs – and especially cats – do not like changes to their routine. During the holidays, try to stick as close to their routine as possible with mealtimes, playtimes and walks. If you need to be away from your pets for an extended period of time, get a friend, neighbor, or professional pet sitter to feed them and walk them as needed.

This month is a special time of year that should be enjoyable and relaxing for all, including our furry best friends. If you follow these tips, you can make this the greatest – and safest – holiday season ever.

—Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services. For more information, please contact her at 760-644-0289 or

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