Tips to keep pets happy and healthy this holiday season

As we move into the holiday season Leni Kaplan, a companion animal veterinarian at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, provides preparation tips and advice to help keep your furry friends safe and healthy.

Kaplan says:

Dangerous decorations
“Keep your pet from chewing or ingesting ornaments, holiday lights, electric wires, and ribbons to prevent gastrointestinal obstructions and electrocution. Consider confining your pet’s access to rooms with holiday decorations especially when unsupervised. One easy option is to use baby gates.

Holiday treats are for people, not pets
“Restrict access to holiday snacks and treats like chocolate, coffee, caffeine, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins and any candy or food item containing xylitol which are toxic to pets and potentially lethal at any time of the year. Store these items in places pets cannot reach or access.

“Do not share your food to avoid unnecessary weight gain in your pet. Have healthy snacks on hand to share including green beans, carrots, zucchini or celery. Fatty and greasy foods can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and in some circumstances pancreatitis, a serious illness which may require hospitalization.

Guests can be stressful
“Evaluate your pet’s stress levels when hosting guests. Consider boarding pets during the holidays unless boarding is in itself a source of stress. Discuss with your veterinarian using anti-anxiety medications if indicated. Consider confining pets to a safe space, room, or crate while entertaining visitors.

Poisonous flowers
“Examine all bouquets as some flowers can be toxic to pets. Poinsettias are relatively safe and do not impose a serious hazard to pets but do avoid access to or ingestion of mistletoe and holly. Lilies are toxic to cats.

Routine is key
“Make sure to stick to your pet’s normal routine as much as possible to enjoy a low stress holiday season. Build in time for walks, play, and meals prior to the start of the holiday season.

When to call your veterinarian
“Contact a veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet ingested any dangerous foods, items or if they are not acting right. If traveling, be proactive and find out where and when you can seek veterinary care during the holidays in case you need it.”