Naughty or Nice, Pet-Proofing Your Home for the Holidays
The holidays are traditionally a time to gather together with friends and family. And since many of us consider our pets to be part of the family, chances are good that holiday festivities will include both two- and four-footed guests (reindeer excluded). To help your holidays play out more along the lines of It’s a Wonderful Life instead of the gathering gone awry in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (during which crazy Aunt Bethany gives the gift that keeps on “meow-ing”), take a look at these seasonal pet-proofing tips.
Deck the Halls with Bow-Wows of Holly: Shiny ornaments, twinkling tinsel, pretty plants and flickering lights can prove almost irresistible to pets. So decorate with your pet in mind to avoid serious injury. Hang breakable or valuable ornaments higher up on the tree using plastic hooks (safer than metal hooks). Stay away from tinsel or string that can get tangled in a pet’s intestines if consumed. Some holiday plants, including mistletoe and poinsettia, are toxic to pets if ingested, so keep them out of reach or choose non-toxic holiday flora. It may also be necessary to keep your tree separate (perhaps in a room where animals can’t enter) or put up a baby gate to discourage mischief.
Food Faux Paws: ‘Tis the season for holiday treats. However, many popular holiday goodies, such as chocolate, bones and nuts, can be extremely toxic or even fatal to pets. Keep holiday delicacies off coffee tables, counters or other places pets can reach. If you’re giving food as a gift, consider placing the package somewhere other than under the tree. When throwing a party, be sure to ask guests not to feed your pets. A festive sign hung from your pet's collar that says "My eyes may be big, but my tummy is not—please don’t feed me" will get some good chuckles and compliance from your guests.
Good Etiquette for Party Animals: Planning a party? Think carefully about whether to include your pet. Some pets can get frightened or over stimulated by groups of unfamiliar faces. If, however, you have a four-legged social butterfly, make sure he or she is the model of four-legged manners when guests are present. While you may think it's cute when Fluffy jumps up on you for attention, your guests in holiday attire might not appreciate the gesture from your pet. Now is a good time to brush up on basic obedience lessons like “down,” “sit” and “stay.”
No Business Like Snow Business: In many areas of the country, the holiday season brings colder weather, snow and ice. If your pet loves to romp in the snow, be sure to periodically inspect their paws for ice balls that can cause frostbite. When clearing the white stuff from patios and decks, opt for a shovel or broom if possible. But, if you must use an ice melt product, look for one that is labeled as “pet friendly.” Also, after any parties or gatherings, check the street and driveway for toxic antifreeze that may have leaked from a guest’s car.
Spruce Up Your Digs: Always try to vacuum up any dropped pine needles or ice melt tracked in by guests as soon as possible, since these may pose a hazard to your pets. One invaluable tool to help pet owners with holiday cleaning is the BISSELL PowerGlide Pet vacuum. This lightweight, bag-less, upright vacuum is designed for multiple surfaces, making it the perfect tool for quickly cleaning small areas and whole rooms.
With just a little planning, the “howlidays” can be a fun, festive and safe time for the entire family.
For more ways to live happier and healthier with pets, visit my website, Kristen Levine Pet Living.