How to Keep Your Pets Safe During the Holidays 🥂

Celebrate, but don’t forget to protect your pets this holiday season.


The holiday season is a time for joy, and gatherings, and sometimes travel. It’s a moment to celebrate and reflect. However, because the holidays may bring guests into your homes, or can mean traveling to unfamiliar places, they often present challenges when it comes to our companion animals. DCSPCA has collected essential tips for keeping your pets safe and protected this holiday season.


Keep pets happy when guests gather


Our relatives may be welcome familiar faces to us, but to our pets they may be strangers. Protect your pets by preparing them for company.


“A cat will often react to strangers in the house by hiding, or even running away,” explains DCSPCA Executive Director Lynne Meloccaro. “If you’re hosting a holiday party, make sure to give your cats a safe room to stay in, with food, water, and a clean litter box. That way they can stay cozy while you gather with your friends and family, and you don’t have to worry about them feeling anxious, or even slipping out the door.” Making sure their microchip information is up to date is an important safeguard in case they do run away.


Dogs are often the opposite of cats when it comes to strangers. A dog may feel protective of their people and potentially perceive a family member as a threat if we don’t manage introductions properly. Says DCSPCA Lead Canine Trainer, Jodi: “If you have a dog that can be wary of new people, or can be uncomfortable around a lot of people, try teaching them to go to a safe space like a dog bed, crate, or mat. Teach them to go to that safe place and reward them with a toy or high value treat when they follow your instructions.” See Jodi’s Training Tip Tuesday about how to teach the “Place” cue here. And watch the video here.

Photo by Andrei Santiago on Unsplash


Prevent poisoning by keeping toxic plants and food away from pets


Even though they may bring joy, some holiday favorites prove poisonous to pets.


Popular during the winter holidays, Poinsettia flowers are poisonous to cats. If you like their look, you can always opt for pretty synthetic flowers instead. It’s a small sacrifice to make in order to protect your beloved pets.


Chocolate also seems to become a more frequent treat during the holiday season. Of course this delicious delight is terribly dangerous to dogs. If you do opt to indulge, be sure to keep the sweets in cabinets that your dogs can’t access, and don’t leave desserts with chocolate on tables during parties. Be sure to also let all of your guests know not to give any food to your pets. “They might think that they are being kind by giving cats and dogs delicious human food, but the truth is they could be making them very sick,” says Lynne.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash


Traveling with your pets? Make sure you do these 4 things


Our pets are our family, and so we often take them on the road with us when we travel. Many of us will be spending the winter holidays with faraway family members, whether we take planes, trains, or automobiles to see them. If you’re taking your pets with you when traveling, be sure to do these 4 things:


1) Make sure their identification tags and microchip information are up to date. This simple step will help ensure that lost pets are returned to you if found.


2) Write down all prescription medications they are taking and dosages. Also, pack copies of your dogs’ rabies vaccination certificates (just in case you lose any pill bottles, or have health emergencies while you’re traveling).


3) Invest in a GPS for your pet that you can attach to their collar. If they slip away from you while you’re on the road or at an airport, you should have a much easier time finding them with one of these devices. There are GPS trackers for cats, as well as for dogs.


4) When traveling, tote extra food and bottled water, and collapsible bowls.

Sometimes we think we just have a 2-hour drive ahead of us, and we end up on

the road for twice as long. Or we are told a layover will be 1 hour and it turns into

an overnight stay at the airport. Be prepared to care for your pets no matter what

unexpected travel delays come your way by carrying collapsible food and water

bowls, as well as bottled water, and extra food. You don’t want to find yourself

stuck in an airport waiting area for 12 hours without anything to feed your pet.

Additionally, be sure their medications are in your carry-on luggage when flying

with your pet, rather than packing them in checked luggage, no matter how short

your flight is.


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