Keeping your pets healthy and happy through the holiday season

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Keeping your pets healthy and happy through the holiday season - Pug looking longingly at a pie

With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is easy to get wrapped up in everything we need to do to make sure things go smoothly. It can be a little overwhelming, from planning parties, preparing dinners, traveling, and finally meeting up with friends and families.

In all the chaos, it might be difficult to remember that this time of year is overwhelming not just for you but also for your pet. So, when coordinating everything involved in the holiday process, don't forget there are many considerations to be aware of in keeping your pet safe. As a pet parent, you’ll need to do a little extra planning on your furry friend's behalf, to ensure that it is a happy holiday for you and your animals!

Morning food prep

It is coming up on one of the first holidays of the season, Thanksgiving, and you have turkey to prepare, potatoes to mash, and stuffing to make. These traditional holiday foods take lots of preparation and are delicious in the end. However, people food can quickly upset your cat or dog's stomach or even have a more serious impact on their health.

When running around in the kitchen, it is important to educate yourself and be aware of which foods are harmful to your pets before leaving scraps on the counter, dropping them on the floor, or even willingly letting your animals have a bite to eat. Note that foods do not necessarily need to be poisonous to harm your pet. Simply eating unusual foods or overconsumption can cause an upset stomach or worse!

Here are some common potentially harmful foods for pets:

If you want your pet to join in on the holiday meal, the best food to serve them is bland, unseasoned versions of the menu. For example, cooked turkey with no skin or gravy, potatoes with no butter, skin, or milk, and cooked or raw carrots are safer options for your pet. Bear in mind you should only offer these people foods in treat-size quantities. Stick to regular pet food for your animal's entire holiday meal. If a pet has medical conditions or dietary restrictions, you should talk to a veterinarian before letting your dogs and cats have a taste of the feast. So watch out for those falling scraps or lingering pets in the kitchen.

Afternoon travel to the festivities

One of the areas that require the most planning ahead is travel. Traveling with pets is not always easy, regardless of whether your extended family and friends are two hours from your home or multiple days away. Unfortunately, pets cannot voice their concerns, so with these tips, you should have all of your pet's needs (and your own worries!) covered before hitting the road.

Physical dangers in the car

Even though it’s adorable and fun for your pet, riding shotgun with their head out the window is dangerous. Passing cars, outside debris, and accidents are hazardous to your dog. In addition, it is a distraction to the driver. So, with that in mind, your pet should also not be on your lap. While riding up front, the airbags can harm your animal should they deploy. Pets are safest and most secure in a carrier secured by a seatbelt in the backseat.

Nutrition on the go

For the trip, make sure your pets have all the necessities. Always have clean and fresh water available for them. Traveling is often unpredictable, and you can't always rely on highway road stops to have safe, drinkable water sources. If you plan to travel over multiple days, ensure you have enough food for your pet. With that being said, it might be best to avoid treats while on the road. Some dogs can become stressed while driving, which may cause diarrhea and upset stomach.

In case of emergency

Always have a travel kit for whatever circumstances you come across with your family pets. Whether that means facing harsh climates, accidents, or runaways, having these items should prepare you for any circumstances you may encounter:

  • Health records
  • Proof of immunization
  • Leash and collar with pet’s name and owner contact information
  • Adequate portions of food, water, and medications
  • Waste bags
  • Toys
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Booties and jackets for cold weather

Before finally hitting the road for the holidays, take a practice trip with your pets to see how they react to longer trips in the car. To guarantee safe travels, download the Vetster app to have access to any questions regarding your pet's safety 24/7 along the trip.

Evening pre-dinner precautions

You have almost made it through the day, and now you can enjoy time with your family and friends and eat all the food you spent so much time diligently preparing! Before you settle in for a fun family gathering, there are a few items to check before letting your pets loose at the host's house. Dogs can ingest or get stuck in holiday decor or house belongings, impacting their well-being. Keep doors to coat rooms closed. Belongings inside purses and pockets can be hazardous for pets. Look out for these items and politely put them out of reach or prevent your pets from entering that area. Make your fellow celebrants aware your animal is walking among them and ask others to respect your pet’s dietary and behavioral rules to ensure everyone has as much fun as possible with no negative consequences.

Household items to keep out of reach of pets:

  • Poisonous or toxic plants, such as lilies and holly
  • Household tree ornaments & tinsel
  • Dish towels
  • Wrapping materials - ribbons and wrapping paper
  • Gum
  • Batteries
  • Makeup
  • Garbage
  • Electrical cords
  • Broken ornaments
  • And watch out for that Christmas tree! Make sure it is secure and not likely to fall over and hurt your furry friend while you are out of sight!

When in unfamiliar places, keep your contact information on your animals at all times. Ensure all vaccinations and parasite prevention are updated before letting your pets interact with other animals and people. Cross-mingling animals can lead to transmission of diseases between pets and can even result in skirmishes that end in bloodshed. It is best to coordinate with other family members who are bringing animals to avoid any unexpected brawls. As pet owners, we shouldn't force any animal interactions hoping everyone gets along. Unlike human family members, most pets do not hold back if aggravated.  Be cautious of young children who may be frightened of pets and always double-check if animals are allowed at the festivities.

If any clarification is needed when traveling during the holidays, book an online virtual care appointment with Vetster. This will help to keep one more worry off your shoulders so you and your pets can have a happy holiday!