The holidays are a special time of year, bringing together loved ones for joyous celebrations. The tree is trimmed, lights adorn the home and families feast together upon scrumptious holiday spreads. Our furry friends are just as enthralled by the occasion, with more time to play with and snuggle up next to family members, exciting decorations and gifts to explore, and plenty of accessible leftovers and treats to nibble on.
Unfortunately, not all of our beloved festive elements are safe for our pets. Some of our favorite decorations and foods can make them sick or pose hazards to their well-being. If your family is celebrating its first holiday season with a dog or cat in the home, take these nine pet-safety tips into consideration for a safe and festive season for all.
Stabilize the Christmas Tree
Dogs and cats are curious creatures. Once the Christmas tree enters the home, there’s no doubt they will be likely to explore. And, yes, sometimes even indoor play can become rowdy. Take extra care this year (and the years ahead) to make sure the tree is stable and secure in its stand, and that the base is large enough to support the size of the tree. As an extra measure, you can tie your tree to a door frame. The last thing you want is to watch as a movie-like scene plays out in your living room and the tree comes crashing to the floor—or worse, lands on top of your pet or a small child.
Get Rid of the Tinsel
Tinsel can be a fun element to decorate your tree with, but it’s no friend to your pets. Both cats and dogs might be tempted to eat this sparkly trimming and, if they do, it can cause intestinal blockages. This year, get rid of the tinsel. And, while you’re at it, make sure your other holiday decorations don’t pose threats: keep homemade ornaments with food-based materials higher up on the tree, set smaller trinkets out of reach and clean up any broken ornaments as soon as possible.
Hide the Wires and Cords
The wires and cords for your holiday decorations and lights should always be tucked away. Curious pets can suffer electrical burns if they choose to bit into one of these cords. If you have extra cord at the end of a string of lights, try to wrap it up and tuck it beneath a rug or tree blanket. This goes for your outdoor lights, as well. Ensuring that excess cords are wrapped up and taped down, tucked under mats or along the home’s siding will keep your pets—and you and your guests—safe from electrical mishaps and falls.
Say “No” to Festive Plants
A red poinsettia and a handful of mistletoe or holly might seem like the perfect finishing touch for a holiday party. Unfortunately, these plants and others (amaryllis, balsam, pine, cedar) can be dangerous—even poisonous—to our pets. Unless you can be absolutely sure your pet has no access to these plants, it’s probably best to keep them out of the house.
Don’t Leave Leftovers Unattended
In most homes, the meal is a central feature of any holiday gathering. The event can span hours, from appetizers to dessert, and often incorporates more than just a single room in the home. As tempting as it might be to leave the mess of leftovers and dishes behind for an hour, this opens up the perfect opportunity for your pets to fill their tummies, too. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, table scraps can be extremely dangerous for pets, especially turkey and turkey skins, gravy, meat fat, bones, onions, yeast dough and more. Be sure to promptly clear the table and keep these human-only foods out of reach from your furry friends.
Careful with the Treats
Sweets are a holiday must-have for most people, and they’re often amply found throughout the home during gatherings. We all know chocolate is dangerous to pets, but so are artificial sweeteners found in many candies and store-bought baked goods. Be sure to keep these sweets and treats in secure containers and resist sharing the sugary goodness with your pet.
Watch the Door
As guests come in and out of your home for an evening of celebrations, make sure to keep the doors to your home closed so that your pets don’t find their way out into the cold without you. It’s a great idea to microchip your dogs and cats in case one were to ever go missing, and an identification tag and collar can help make for a quicker return. If your pet doesn’t already have one, look no further for the perfect holiday gift idea!
Let Your Guests Know
You alone can’t be responsible for every door left open, plate of leftovers set on an unsupervised table and uncovered treats brought into the home. When hosting a holiday gathering, be sure to let your guests know that you have pets and that the doors need to stay closed and foods and treats minded. Other pet owners will be more than happy to oblige by the simple rules, and those who don’t know the dangers of holiday edibles and decorations won’t mind the guidance.
Find a Good Pet Boarding Facility
In the case that you’re leaving town for the holidays and can’t take your pet with you, make sure he has the best care possible, making his holiday most comfortable. If a house sitter is not feasible, consider a professional pet boarding facility. Your dog or cat will be in good hands with plenty of playtime to pass the days you’re away.
Though there are plenty of cautions to be mindful of with pets in the home around the holidays, the love and playfulness of your pet is well-worth the extra considerations. Don’t forget to include your pets in the holiday celebrations. Special toys and pet treats will let them know they’re a part of the fun.
(Photo ©Nagy-Bagoly Ilona/123 RF Stock Photo)
The first snow of the season has already arrived in the Inland Northwest, blowing in with freezing temperatures. If your dog is like most, the first snow means a day full of excitement, with plenty of outside playtime. And, much like kids, they’ll often remain outdoors until they’re cold to the bone.
Our furry friends are just as sensitive to the weather elements as we are. We all know how dangerous leaving our pups inside cars during warmer months can be, but the winter temps are just as problematic. The effects of the severe cold and snow can sneak up on your pup without you noticing, unless you pay attention to the limits and are aware of the signs to look for.
Ensure your dog’s safety and warmth this season (and every season) with these cold weather tips.
When the temperature dips below freezing, it’s best to keep your dog indoors as much as possible. Refrain from leaving your pup outside for any lengthy duration—playtime and potty breaks should be quicker than usual, too. According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, “Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.”
Also, be sure to crate train your pup before winter, so that you can leave him or her inside the home and comfortably warm while you’re out and about. Just like during the hot summer months, leaving your dog in the car while running errands isn’t a safe an option.
Check the Paws
Checking your pup’s paws is one of the most important factors in ensuring his or her well-being during the cold-weather season. The winter elements can cause cracked paw pads and bleeding, and walking through snow and ice can cause ice ball accumulation between toes. Try to inspect your pet’s paws regularly after returning inside from the elements. Trimming hairs between your dog’s toes can help decrease the ice buildup and, if you notice cracking and bleeding of the paws, it might be a sign that more time needs to be spent indoors.
In addition to checking your dog’s paws for cracks and ice balls, make sure to wipe them off after any trip outside to places where deicers and antifreeze chemicals might have been used. Not only can these chemicals get tracked into the house on your dog’s paws, but they are poisonous to your pup if he or she licks its paws. For your own home’s walkways and driveway, use a pet-safe deicer to avoid this everyday hassle.
Consider an Extra Layer
Not all dogs are bred for cold-weather climates. Many short-haired breeds and smaller dogs are less tolerant of the chilling conditions. For these pups especially, a warm dog coat or sweater is a great option for trips outdoors. Perhaps more importantly, dog booties can help protect your pup’s paws, making even the quicker trips outdoors far more comfortable.
Watch for Problem Signs
Dogs are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite just like we are. Pay attention to the symptoms. Bring your pup inside immediately if you notice whining, shivering, signs of anxiousness or weakness, or if your dog slows down or stops moving. It’s important to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect hypothermia or frostbite.
Particularly with older dogs, medical conditions such as arthritis can worsen during the colder months. A trip to your veterinarian for an annual checkup around this time of the year will help make sure your pup is healthy and ready for the season ahead.
There’s no reason not to enjoy some precious moments of playtime in the snow with your pup. In fact, a winter without these memories just wouldn’t be the same. Play it safe, however, by limiting outdoor time and following these tips to keep your pup healthy and safe.
Going away this winter? Contact K9 Country Club to arrange dog boarding so that your pup can stay happy and warm while you’re gone.
(©Jorge Mauro Fernndez/123 RF Stock Photo)
Our pets are members of our family, each with its own personality and “fit” into our complex family dynamics. Sometimes, however, certain circumstances, trips and vacations exclude our furry friends. Leaving your dog or cat in the hands of a boarding facility can be difficult, especially if it’s your pet’s first overnight stay.
Will Fido be well-cared for?
Will he have playtime and be given his medications?
Will it go unnoticed if other dogs pick on him?
Choosing a pet boarding facility that you can trust may seem like a nerve-racking decision, but it doesn’t have to be. During your research for the best place to board Fido (or Kitty), consider these six questions.
Is it a reputable pet boarding facility?
First and foremost, is the facility at which you plan to board your dog or cat a reputable one? Put on your online-investigating hat and do some digging. What do the facility’s Google and Yelp reviews read? Does the company have an online presence and positive social media interaction with clients? Reading other pet owners’ great experiences boarding their furry family members at the facility you’re considering can increase confidence in your decision. Furthermore, check to see if the company you’re considering has any certifications. This is not a requirement by law, but can amount to a pro on your pro and con list. And finally, avoid searching for the facility with the best rate. A cost of $10 per day is likely not a rate that a facility can charge in order to afford its operating expenses to maintain a sanitary, well-staffed environment.
Is the staff experienced and knowledgeable?
Visit the facility in-person and talk to staff members to get a first-hand experience with the professionals who will be caring for your pet. Are they friendly? How do they treat the dogs and cats they are around? Don’t be afraid to inquire about the staff’s experience, if staff is on-site around the clock and if staff is present when your dog or cat is in the same play area as other dogs and cats. The more you know about the professionals working at the pet boarding facility you’re considering, the more confidence you will gain about the care your pet will receive.
Will my pet have room to play?
Will my dog or cat have time out of its kennel? A week in a 5-foot by 5-foot space is certainly not ideal. Ample space for your pet to play and stretch its legs is a big concern when researching pet boarding facilities. Make a note to ask about playtime details—what is the space like? Are other dogs or cats in the same area at the same time? How long is playtime each day? Better yet—ask to see!
Can I tour the facility?
Any reputable pet boarding company shouldn’t object when potential clients ask to tour its facility. Check out where the kennels are located and what the play area looks like, and keep mental notes about the property’s cleanliness and safety. Are the other dogs or cats having fun, and are they supervised by staff members? Check and check.
Will my pet’s special diet and medications be a problem?
A high-maintenance cat or dog doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a human-only trip every once in awhile; it just means you need to be even more mindful that the facility you choose is accommodating to your pet’s needs. A good pet boarding company’s staff understands that specific diets and medication consistency is key to the health of your pet.
Are my pet’s vaccinations updated?
Each pet boarding facility has its own policy regarding the vaccinations needed before your dog or cat can stay. These requirements may include Bordetella, Rabies and DHPP, in addition to a fecal parasite test. This is for the health and safety of your dog or cat when interacting with others during its stay. The last thing you want to happen on the day you drop off Fido or Kitty is to find out that your pet’s vaccination records are not up-to-date. Make a note to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to update your pet’s records in accordance with the facility’s requirements well before the date of your trip.
Researching the best pet boarding facility is never wasted time when it concerns where your furry family member will be staying while you’re away. The peace of mind from knowing your dog or cat is comfortable, well-fed, safe and having fun allows you to enjoy your time away. Some pet boarding companies, like K9 Country Club, even offer live video feeds so that you can check in on your pet to see what they’re up to.
Contact K9 Country Club for more information about its dog and cat boarding services, rates, vaccination requirements and facility tours.