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Important Tips to Keep Pets Safe This Holiday Season

girl hugs dog in falling snow

After this challenging year, many people are ready to unwind and spend some quality time with family, friends and pets. Some of the things that make celebrations festive this time of year can also be potentially harmful to our furry friends. The NC State College of Veterinary Medicine has some helpful tips to keep the holidays safe:

Pet Safety and Holiday Hazards

  • Keep people food away from your pet by not giving unhealthy treats or allowing unguarded access to food, leftovers or garbage. Some human foods may be toxic to animals such as onions, grapes, chocolate and coffee.
  • Keep pets away from holiday plants such as poinsettias, mistletoe, holly and Christmas rose.
  • Anchor Christmas trees; climbing cats and curious dogs can knock over your tree.
  • Watch pets around decorations including ornaments, ribbon, tinsel, gift wrapping, candles, lights and cords (try decorating the lower portion of the Christmas tree with non-breakable decorations.)
  • Ensure pets cannot access possibly toxic Christmas tree water if preservative chemicals are added.
  • Be careful with people toys and gifts that can be a great temptation for  curious pets.
  • Help keep your pet’s stress low. Make sure they have a quiet, safe place if there are more people around or changes in routines.

With winter approaching, there are also some important safety tips to remember for your pets in colder temperatures and on snowy or icy days:

Pet Safety During Cold and Winter Weather

  • Fur does not mean complete protection from the cold. Don’t leave pets outside in extreme cold weather. If it’s too cold for you to stay out, it’s too cold for them.
  • Check your dog’s paws for ice around the pads and for irritation from sidewalk and road salt, which can lead to cracked paws, discomfort and possible infection.
  • Be careful on off-leash hikes that your dog does not venture out onto frozen ponds and lakes to break through too thin an ice cover.
  • Be aware colder temperatures may mean outdoor cats and wildlife may find car engines offer a warm respite.
  • Make sure horses and other outdoor animals have constant access to liquid water when the temperature drops below freezing.
  • Some manufacturers are changing chemicals used in antifreeze, but assume any spills are highly toxic and even a few licks or walking through the fluid can be deadly.
  • Other potentially dangerous items include windshield washing fluid and ice melt products that can cause gastrointestinal tract irritation, depression, weakness, seizures, cardiac issues, and other life-threatening issues.