The isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic moved many people to adopt a pet in 2020. A variety of reports showed a double-digit increase in pet adoptions. Rescue animals were even selected as Time magazine’s 2020 pet of the year.

And it’s clear that pet health is a high priority for pet owners. According to a survey by LendEDU, 45% of pet owners say the amount they spend on their pet’s health care is as much or more than what they spend on their own.

Now, with pandemic-related restrictions eased in many parts of the country, pet owners may be anticipating a holiday season with loved ones again—the first holiday season in which new pet owners will have to plan for their furry friends. If you’re a pet parent, you’re likely used to caring for a pet when you’re home alone, but how do you keep your new BFF safe and healthy during visits with friends or family for the holidays? Here are a few tips for when you’re entertaining at your place or taking your pet to a holiday gathering elsewhere.



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Chocolate is a part of many festivities, but it is toxic for dogs and cats. Also, keep your pet away from anything that contains the artificial sweetener xylitol, which has been linked to liver failure in dogs.

Avoid giving pets table scraps—especially those that are fatty, salty or spicy—as well as bones and raw eggs. Some foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets, including onions, raisins and grapes. Also keep nuts, pits and foods with citric acid away from pets, and make sure trash containers are tightly sealed.

If alcohol is part of the celebration, pets should not partake. It can cause illness and even become life-threatening.

But that doesn’t mean that your pet misses out on treats altogether. Try these Paw-some recipes for your pets to enjoy.

If you or your host has a Christmas tree, keep your dog or cat from eating branches or pine needles and from drinking the water in the tree stand, which may contain bacteria or dangerous chemicals. None of these are good for your pet’s digestive system.

Common household or decorative plants can cause problems if your pet eats them. Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, lilies, poinsettias and holly can be dangerous and even poisonous to pets that eat them.

Keep homemade ornaments, especially those made from salt dough or other food-based materials, away from pets. Broken ornaments can injure pets, and keep pets away from tinsel, potpourri, candles and electrical wiring.

Celebrations can get noisy, so make sure your pet has a quiet and accessible place to retreat to.

If you’re the host, inform guests ahead of time if your pet will be present at the get-together or if other guests plan to bring their pets. If you’re a guest, make sure your pet is welcome and inquire if others will be bringing pets. Be sure to determine beforehand how well the attending pets get along with each other. And remember that some exotic pets may make guests uncomfortable.

Be sensitive to children who may be afraid of animals. Introduce them to each other carefully, and closely monitor the interaction between them. Also, consider the opposite problem: children who are unafraid of pets and may be rough with them.

Keep an eye on your pets so they don’t sneak out of the house while guests are coming and going. Ensure that your pet is properly identified with your contact information, and consider using and registering a microchip.

This story was featured in the
November/ December 2021 issue of AAALiving Magazine

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