By Gina Hardter
As the year draws to a close and the days get shorter and colder, many of us are starting to plan for the holidays. Why not include your pet in those plans? Whether you are traveling, partying or celebrating quietly from home, here are some top tips for keeping your pet safe this holiday season:
• Special meals are one of everyone’s favorite parts of the holiday season, but what’s good for your human family may not be for Fido and Fluffy. Pets should avoid most human foods because they contain too much salt and fat for their sensitive stomachs, but keep in mind that foods like certain kinds of nuts, raisins, garlic, onions and, of course, chocolate are toxic for dogs and cats. And keep your pets away from bones that have been cooked, as they are more likely to splinter when chewed and can cause damage to the digestive system.
• One of the most festive things about the season is the decorations, but it’s best to limit what your pet can access. From adventurous kitties scaling – and toppling – Christmas trees to decorations that might look tasty to a pup but contain toxins, keeping your decorations out of reach will make everyone safer. And don’t forget to keep lit candles well out of reach of any inquisitive paws – or little hands!
• As the year ends, people love to gather, but make sure you are taking your pet into account when party planning. Consider offering your pet a safe space away from all the hustle and bustle of the activities; being behind a closed door also limits the opportunity for a pet to dart out a suddenly opened door or window. Make sure your visitors also understand how to interact with your pet safely and comfortably, and keep animal-appropriate treats readily available to make sure guests are not offering a pet any forbidden foods.
• If you’re traveling with your pet, make sure you have all of their medical records, and research emergency vets in the area, just in case. Pack for all pet eventualities, including extra food in case you end up staying longer than anticipated, and don’t forget to check the weather forecast too; some pets need to dress for the cold just as much as their humans.
• If travel is on your list but not your pet’s, make sure you check with your vet to ensure your pet is up-to-date on all vaccinations, including for diseases especially transmissible in a boarding environment like Bordetella and canine flu.
And of course, whether you are traveling far or staying home, make sure pets are wearing appropriate identification and that any microchips have up-to-date contact information so should your pet become separated from you, they have a much better chance of finding their way back to you.
However you are celebrating, from your friends at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria and all of Alexandria’s Animals, we wish you a wonderful holiday season!