Thought you got stressed out by the holidays? Well, think about how stressful this time of the year can be for your pets! If you have family members visiting for the holidays, this blog is a must read so you will know how to educate your house guests on your pets’ safety. Here, the top 5 ways to holiday-proof your pets:

Tell Your Visiting Holiday House Guests the "Rules"

Don’t worry about hurting your house guests’ feelings. After all, it’s your house, and your pets’ safety trumps all two-legged feelings. Clearly communicate the rules to your holiday house guests: Don’t let the cat out, don’t feed the pets, don’t leave the doors open, put the toilet lid down, and make sure all the doors are closed securely behind you when leaving.

Avoid Plastic Zipper Storage Bags

One of the most common ways that people travel with their medications is to inappropriately store them in plastic zipper storage bags, which are easy for your dog to chew through. The majority of people who casually throw their medications into a bag don’t know a) how many pills are in there, b) what the name of the medication(s) are, or c) what the milligram strength is. If any of your visiting house guests happen to be on any medications or vitamins, make sure to educate them on how to properly store them while visiting your home. Make sure your house guests store them out of reach – not in the suitcase on the floor, where Fido’s nose could easy sniff them out!

Avoid Kitchen Foods

Don’t let your house guests feed any table foods to your pets. Non-pet owners may not be aware that simple kitchen toxins like grapes, raisins, currants, macadamia nuts, fatty foods, table scraps, onions, and garlic are poisonous to your dog and cat. Give them the simple instructions to not feed anything to your pet at all without asking you first.

Don’t Let Your House Guests Put Any Edible Presents Under the Christmas Tree

Pet Poison Helpline, an animal poison control based out of Minneapolis, gets called every day during the Holidays about Labradors who discover chocolate-covered espresso beans wrapped under the tree. As these boxes are not "pet-proof," dogs can easily sniff them out and ingest multiple poisons all at once: chocolate, caffeine, fatty snacks, and nuts! Likewise, if you have cats in the household, make sure presents and gift bags are ribbon-free; when chewed and swallowed by cats, tinsel, ribbon and yarn can result in a life-threatening intestinal obstruction called a "linear foreign body."

Lock Up Your Loved Ones (i.e., the pets)

While you may thing that you’re leaving Fido or Tigger out of the limelight of family activities, chances are that they prefer to be locked up in a quiet room where it’s stress-free. Visiting guests and their added commotion can be stressful to pets, and by providing a safe haven with food, water, toys, and a crate or litter box, your pet will be safer — and stress-free — from the holiday madness.

Dr. Justine Lee

Image: Groovnick / via Flickr