Keeping Your Pet Safe this Holiday Season


Photo courtesy of Animal Rescue League of Boston. Keep pet safety in mind when celebrating the holidays.

By Dr. Edward Schettino

‘Tis the Season. Food, shopping, gifts, and gathering with family and friends are hallmarks of the holiday season. It’s a whirlwind for all of us, including our pets. So, before we dive headfirst into the holidays, the Animal Rescue League of Boston wants to remind pet owners of some things to keep in mind.

Hosting a gathering? Decorations, kids running around, unfamiliar faces, easy access to food, opportunity for a quick escape – along with these concerns, a gathering can lead to overstimulation as well. Even the most outgoing and social animals can quickly become overwhelmed.

Make sure your pet has access to a comfortable, peaceful place to retreat to if necessary. Whether it’s a crate or an entire room, as long as it is away from the noise and commotion, your four-legged friend will know they can go there any time to get away. If your pet is already nervous around visitors, they should be kept in a room throughout the duration of the gathering with all of their familiar comforts – food, water, favorite bed or blanket and of course toys!

It’s also a good idea to inform your guests beforehand that there are pets in the home. Guests with allergies, compromised immune systems (pregnancy, disease, or medications), need to be aware in order to take proper precautions. With guests coming in and out – watch the exits! Some dogs or cats will take the opportunity to slip outside so remind your guests to be mindful and it’s also a good time to ensure your pet’s microchip information is correct and up to date.

For decorations, it’s best to avoid tinsel, potpourri, and place electric light cords or ornaments out of reach. Candles are also enticing to pets, so never leave a candle going where a pet can get at it.

Finally, the food. Everyone knows that chocolate is a no-no, but many of the foods we enjoy during the holidays are too rich, difficult to digest, and potentially poisonous to pets. Certain types of nuts can cause upset stomach and vomiting, while macadamia nuts can induce seizures. Garlic, onions, raisins and grapes, even turkey and turkey skin in small amounts can cause pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening.

We love our pets, and nothing can spoil the holidays more than a trip to an emergency clinic! Our four-legged family members lean on us and trust us to protect them. From our family to yours – Happy Holidays!

Thanks to Dr. Edward Schettino for contributing this article to Westwood Minute. Dr. Schettino is the President and CEO of the Animal Rescue League of Boston, and has a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified