The holidays are a joyful and exciting time of year—but unfortunately, the season brings with it a host of hazards that could harm our furry friends! As you pull out stockings, hang lights and shop for presents, take some time to hazard-proof your apartment for your pets. Here are hazards to eliminate in order to have a pet-friendly apartment come sleigh bells:
1. Table Food
The bit of turkey leg left over on your Thanksgiving table will probably make your dog’s mouth water. However, no matter how much he begs, giving him the turkey or the bone is asking for trouble! While the turkey is delicious, dogs can only eat fat in moderation and too much fat can cause your dog to get sick. The safest and healthiest option is giving your dog or cats his regular food. You can spring for a specially-formulated pet treat (or bake one yourself) if you want your animal to have a holiday snack. Be sure the treat is no more than 10% of the daily calorie need for a dog of his or her size.
This shiny, festive material is often made of plastic and hung on trees or over fireplaces. It’s pretty to you and irresistible for pets, especially cats—and it can be very dangerous. If ingested, tinsel may knot up in your cat or dog’s intestines, which can be fatal. If you choose to decorate with tinsel, do so with caution. Hang tinsel higher on your tree so your animals can’t access it. However, nixing it altogether is safest. If you notice your pet eating tinsel, call your vet immediately.
3. Wintertime Plants
Many plants are hazardous for dogs and cats to eat, and those that flourish in winter are no exception. Poinsettia, pine needles, mistletoe and holly can cause nausea and vomiting—not fun for your pet! Instead of decorating with real versions of these common holiday plants, purchase silk versions. You can use silk flowers year after year, and your dog or cat won’t earn a trip to the vet after nibbling on them.
Don’t worry, you can have your Christmas cocktails; just don’t let Fido in on the fun. Alcohol affects animals more quickly than humans, so you should not let your pet have access to it. Remind your guests to keep an eye on their drinks, especially if your cat has a tendency to climb on tables and sip out of glasses. A former cat of mine, Marvin, was notorious for stealing White Russians when no one was watching. If you or a guest spills, clean it up right away—your dog will be in for a surprise if he laps up the liquid thinking it’s something safe.
5. Desserts of All Kinds
Everything from grapes to chocolate to sugar-free candy is hazardous for dogs and cats to consume. Don’t leave these items out where your pet can access them. Instead, keep them in sealed containers. If your pet displays symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea or discomfort, he may have ingested something without your knowing. In this case, try to figure out what your pet ate and call your vet.
Don’t leave lit candles unattended, or you might have a fire on your hands. Dogs and cats could accidentally knock over the flame, igniting nearby flammables. Consider setting out electric candles during the holidays, especially when you can’t monitor your pets consistently—with all those guests around, you can’t chat with Uncle Joe and shoo your cat away from candles.
Niccole Schreck is a rental experience expert for Rent.com, a free rental site that helps you find an affordable pet-friendly apartment and provides tips on how to move with your pet. She is also the proud owner of two dogs, Bella and Wallace.