Experts Share Holiday Pet Safety Tips for a Happy and Healthy Festive Season

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Originally published by Redfin

The holiday season is upon us, and decking the halls with festive decor is one of the best parts of spreading holiday cheer. But with so many bright colors and tempting new scents, these delightful additions can pose a danger to curious pets. Luckily, there are simple steps you can take to remove these holiday pet hazards to ensure you and your furry friend safely enjoy the festivities.

We reached out to experts across North America from Victoria, BC, to New York, NY, for their best tips on celebrating the festive season at home while also keeping it safe for your furry companions. From toxic plants to decor items to avoid, here are things to watch out for as you include pets in the festivities.

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Prepare your pets for the arrival of house guests

Use pet-safe cleaners

Holiday hosting means a thorough cleaning of your home. Harsh chemicals and bleach not only compete with your favorite cooking aromas but are also harmful to your pets. Instead, use pet-sensitive, pH-balanced cleaners that complement the chef, like OdorPet and KennelSol disinfectant. -Alpha Tech Pet

Create a safe and quiet area for pets

Make sure your pets have a safe, quiet space in your home to get away when the holiday hustle and bustle gets to be too much. And don't forget to make sure dogs and cats are wearing collars with ID tags; with people coming in and out over the holidays, identification is the most important way to help reconnect with your pets if they get out of the house. -Animal Welfare League of Alexandria

If your pet is stressed by visitors, keep them in a quiet room with gentle music away from the bustle of guests. -Signature Veterinary Services

Don't force interactions

Small holiday gatherings may be returning this year, but your pets may not be so welcoming of strangers in your home. To avoid any potential problems, ask your guests not to approach your pet and let them keep their space. If it's a dog, hand your guests some dog treats so the dog can approach them and if your cat is scared, leave them alone, and they'll come out when they feel safe. -911fosterpets

Keep escape artists safely contained

With guests coming and going during the holidays, consider buying a doggie gate for your front entrance. They are easy to install and will keep Fido in the house during those long goodbyes at the door, rather than dashing through the snow and possibly into danger. -Rover-Time

Consider a professional pet sitting service

If you happen to travel during holidays and use a professional pet sitting service while your pets stay home, meet your pet sitter beforehand and discuss your pets' routine in detail. This meeting is equivalent to the on-the-job training where you discuss all the areas where your pets are allowed, feeding instructions, and a full care plan. -PetSitConnect

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Holiday decor hazards to watch out for

Secure Christmas trees and decor

Holiday decorations can make this time of year very festive, but they can also be dangerous and even poisonous for our pets. Make sure that your Christmas tree is anchored so that it doesn’t fall over on your pets. Artificial trees are always best to avoid your animal drinking the tree water and keep Christmas lights and ornaments out of reach of your pets. You can still have these items in your house for the holiday season, but make sure they're secured. -Angel of Hope Animal Rescue

Keep an eye out for chewing and swallowing hazards

Be mindful of things pets can chew or swallow during Christmas time. Chewing light cords could cause electrocution, mistletoe, holly, and Poinsettia leaves can be toxic, and tree needles can irritate their mouth and stomach. Tinsel, ribbons, string, batteries, water in the tree base, as well as food such as chocolate, fatty leftovers, bones, mincemeat, grapes, raisins, and even alcohol are also things you don't want your pet to swallow on accident. - Janet Steiss, DVM, PhD, PT, Board of Directors, Denton Animal Support Foundation

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Be mindful of holiday plants that can be hazardous to pets

Avoid toxic plants and keep them out of reach

Animal owners should be cautious of certain holiday plants around the house this time of year. Live Christmas trees are safe, but water at the trunk base can upset sensitive stomachs from fertilizers sprayed on the tree. Holly and mistletoe should be avoided or displayed on an elevated surface as these are poisonous and can make your pets sick if consumed. -ScooperDude

Consider faux holiday plants to avoid an emergency vet visit

Several holiday plants are toxic to pets, such as poinsettias, lilies, holly berries, and mistletoe. If ingested, they can lead to vomiting and an expensive trip to the veterinarian. The best option is to stick to faux plants, which can be just as beautiful. -Steph's Pet Sitting

Move holiday plants and flowers to a safe location

Knowing which plants could be holiday pet hazards is imperative. Place toxic holiday plants in places out of reach from your pets and be sure to clean up any dead foliage around the plants. -Great Spirit Animal Sanctuary

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Food and drinks to avoid

Avoid giving your pets table scraps

It’s best for pets not to have human foods during the holidays or in general. Many human foods are toxic to pets and can cause GI issues. -San Antonio Pets Alive!

Pay extra attention to wrapped presents with food inside

Make sure to keep presents that contain food, candy, or chocolate tucked away or put up where they can't be reached. They can smell that deliciousness through the wrapping. No one wants to take a trip to the emergency clinic over the holiday season. If you have concerns about something your pet has gotten into, don’t hesitate to call them or take a trip to the vet if needed. -Karla'a Pet Care

Keep sweet treats out of reach

Don't forget that candy bowls are full of potential toxins. Chocolate, gum, and the sweetener xylitol are hazardous to pets. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. And xylitol, even in small amounts, can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and potentially seizures. -Heidi's Hounds

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