This holiday season, share seasonal celebrations and traditions with the entire family, including four-legged family members. According to a national PetSmart survey, 72 percent of pet parents include their pet in holiday festivities.
“The holidays are about being with our loved ones– and that includes our pets, too,” said PetSmart Veterinarian and Pet Care Expert Dr. Robyn Jaynes. “Whether it’s including your pet in a family photo, taking them on a family trip or giving that perfect holiday gift or treat, it’s important for pet parents to consider the unique behaviors of each and every pet.”
As families everywhere kick off the season, PetSmart has a few simple tips to help pet parents make it a safe and enjoyable time for their pets.
Put up pet-friendly décor
Keep your pet’s safety in mind and help furry friends steer clear of dangerous decorations.
• Holiday lights mean extra electrical cords and plugs. For pets, these items are tempting “chew toys.” Taking extra time to tape down or cover cords will help prevent shocks, burns or more serious injuries.
• Christmas trees are sure to attract a pet’s attention. Secure Christmas trees to keep them from toppling over if a pet should try to climb them, use them as a scratching post or simply bump into them.
• Forgo small ornaments, especially balls, bells and tinsel that are attractive to pets but deadly if consumed.
Traveling with furry friends
Many families travel at this time of year. Whether pet parents are taking their pets along or leaving them at home, it’s important to make sure their pets are safe and comfortable.
• Pet parents who board their pets should look for facilities that are clean and have friendly, responsive staff and strict policies on health and safety issues.
• If pets are included in a family’s travel plans, many resources can help you find hotels that accommodate pets. Visit www.petswelcome.com for more information.
• Many products are available to keep pets safe in the car, including harnesses and barriers that secure pets in the back of the vehicle.
Help pets get camera-ready
Just like the rest of the family, pets need to look their best for the holiday photo or the traditional shot on Santa’s lap. Try these tips to prepare your pet:
• Help your pets look their best with a pre-photo bath.
• For pets that enjoy dressing up, holiday outfits such as a reindeer or Santa costume, cable knit sweater, elf hat or jingle bell collar are festive.
• Having treats or special toys on-hand can keep pets from getting anxious while in line and also help them behave during the photo.
Keep pets calm and comfortable
The holiday season can be hectic for pets with the hustle and bustle of parties, travel and family dinners. To ease pet stress, pet parents should be mindful of the following:
• Pets may not understand why their usually quiet home is filled with people and noise. Provide pets with a quiet place to retreat.
• Pet parents often think they’re “treating” their pets with table scraps from their holiday meals. The danger, say PetSmart veterinarians, is that dogs can become seriously ill from human foods because they do not have the same digestive system or nutritional needs as people.
• For the most part, pets should stay indoors during the cold winter months. Some dogs may not adjust as well to the cold weather, so pet parents may consider sweaters to keep their pets warm.