Self employed domestic goddess of green cleaning. Animal lover. Quasi DIY crafty type person. Lazy blogger.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Making your holiday safe(r) for your pets
The holidays are stressful; let’s just get that out of the way first. What – with gifts to buy, decorations to put up, family issues to deal with, cookies to bake – it can be exhausting. It’s easy to forget that others in your household might find it stressful, too. I’m talking about your animal companions.
From their perspective, the holidays can be one long food and drink fest, filled with amazing and scary sights and sounds. There are the new and unusual foods available for snatching, abandoned drinks to sample, seasonal decorations that may look (or actually be) good enough to eat and the people . . . all the people who come to visit. It’s enough to put the most easygoing animal over the edge emotionally and physically. Below are some things to keep in mind regarding your animal companions as you prepare for your home’s holiday season.
Holiday Plants and Flowers
For many, it doesn’t feel like the holidays without the seasonal plants and flowers that beautify surroundings. However, the beauty of many plants and flowers hides a dark and potentially deadly secret.
Poinsettia – Long maligned as highly toxic to animals, the poinsettia, in reality, isn’t poisonous. Still, you don’t want your animals taking bites out of your lovely plants!
Holly and Mistletoe – Both rank as moderately to severely toxic. If eaten, possible side effects include, diarrhea, generalized gastrointestinal upset, vomiting and excessive drooling. Seizures, coma and death can be the result of holly berry ingestion.
Lilies and Daffodils – These include amaryllis, daffodils, narcissus and paper whites. The flowers of lilies are highly toxic to cats, although the stems and leaves will also make them quite ill. These plants are so toxic to cats that even a tiny amount that’s eaten will cause severe symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, cardiac arrhythmias, kidney failure, convulsions and, quite possibly, death. Daffodils are toxic to both cats and dogs, especially the bulbs. While they are beautiful and may have a wonderful scent, having these plants around during the holidays just might not be worth it.
Christmas Tree – Pine and spruce trees are only mildly toxic, but can cause stomach upset and gastrointestinal issues. However, most animals don’t eat enough of them to be much of a factor.
If the thought of no flowers or plants at the holidays makes you crazy, consider buying silk ones instead. Silk plants and flowers are much more realistic looking now, especially if seen at a bit of a distance. A bonus is that they also last forever and aren’t interesting to curious animals.
Decorations and Packages Lights, garland, tinsel and beautifully wrapped gifts all provide your animal companions with plenty to play with and chew on. You may have to sacrifice a magazine-worthy decorated home for one that keeps your pets safe and away from those tempting glass balls, yummy smelling candles and all things sparkly.
In addition, while a Christmas tree may look picture perfect with all the packages placed underneath it, you might consider waiting to put them there until just before you open them. Animals, especially cats, seem fascinated with pretty packages. (Can you blame them?) Oh, and any food items that you’ve wrapped (like that fruitcake you’re regifting), will be discovered by your curious canine, who will sniff it out and sample it. Dogs don’t have the same issues with fruitcake that people do. Never put your pet’s gift under the tree. He will find it.
Food and Drink If you or a guest happens to leave something delectable unattended, your dog (and maybe cat) won’t have any issues having a quick nosh. This might make their mouth happy, but their stomach will probably have other ideas. When your dog or cat eats unusual (not their normal) foods, he runs the risk of getting sick – or worse. It’s also important that your animal companion not be exposed to foods that could truly harm him. Most people know you shouldn’t feed a dog chocolate, but grapes and raisins can be toxic, too. Did you know that?
Alcohol and animals don’t mix. And it could only take a small amount of liquor to make your animal companion sick. Drinks, such as eggnog and punch, can also wreak havoc on delicate digestive systems. Do you really want your animal companion to be throwing up, just as you sit down to a holiday feast? I wouldn’t think so. You can either keep your animals away from your guests by putting them in a safe place in your home or be vigilant about what’s left sitting around, if you want your pets to be part of your holiday festivities, then inform your guests that feeding the animals is not OK and ask that they cooperate with your rules.
Guests Speaking of guests, new and even familiar people coming into your home can be stressful for your shy cat or dog. Shelter your sensitive animal companion in a safe, quiet space until your guests leave. It’s far better to have your animals feel safe than being upset and possibly getting sick because of stress.
Watch out for that Tree! If you have a Christmas tree, secure it to the wall or ceiling so it can’t be toppled by your tree-climbing feline. Also, make sure the water reservoir of a live tree is covered securely. Your dog (and even cat) may see this as a second (or third) water bowl. It’s a bad idea for him to drink from this, especially if you use tree preserver.
Animals like ornaments, so decorating a tree can be a challenge. Consider buying child/animal safe ornaments and placing those on the bottom third of the tree. That way, if the ornaments are knocked or pulled off, they won’t break. In addition, they are easy to replace, especially if someone decides to chew on one.
Putting a bell or two at the bottom of your tree might be the best thing to occupy your cat. By having the bell be the focus, your cat may be less interested in climbing. I have a friend who does this each year. She’s reported that she’s heard the bell ringing in the middle of the night – a sure sign the cats are entertained – and not tree climbing.
Katie's Peachy Clean is a green house cleaning service founded in Tulsa, OK