(Family Features) This year, holiday gatherings may look different than celebrations in years past. With traditions and large gatherings up in the air, pet parents can take some comfort in knowing they can still celebrate with their pets.
Before the festivities begin, however, it's important for pet parents to ensure their homes are as pet-friendly as possible. Consider these tips from PetSmart’s resident veterinarian Jennifer Freeman, DVM, and training expert Jodie Havens, CPDT-KSA, to keep pets happy and healthy this holiday season.
Teach Good Table Manners
Table manners aren’t just for humans. Help prevent begging at the table by refraining from giving your pup food or attention. When you sit down for a meal, place your pet in a crate or pen, or encourage him or her to go to a special place like his or her bed or a comfortable chair.
“Divert your pup’s attention from tempting treats on the holiday table by providing an activity, such as a long-lasting chew or a puzzle toy,” Havens said.
If you don’t crate your pet during your holiday meal, avoid sharing human food under the table.
“Table scraps such as gravy and stuffing may look harmless, but even small amounts can lead to serious health issues,” Freeman said.
Instead, offer pet-friendly treats that look and taste like the holidays. For example, Simply Nourish Dog Treats come in turkey and cranberry flavors that are alternatives to the real things.
Create a Space
The holidays can be hectic, and pets are prone to picking up on stress in the household. Even just one or two guests or stressed out pet parents can give a pet anxiety. Freeman recommends providing pets with a safe getaway.
“Stress and extra people in the home may cause your pet to act differently and even show signs of anxiety,” Freeman said. “To set up your pet’s retreat, use a crate or pen he or she is comfortable with, offer blankets or his or her favorite bed and place a few treats or chews inside.”
Exercise Caution When Decorating
While families may be brightening up their homes this holiday season, it’s important to ensure decor such as candles and seasonal plants are placed out of your pet’s reach. Flickering candles can be intriguing and seasonal plants like holly and poinsettia are poisonous to dogs and cats.
“Try providing a tall cat tree or scratcher near the holiday tree to redirect your kitty to an appropriate climbing apparatus,” Havens said. “The Merry & Bright Holiday House Cat Scratcher can help satisfy your cat’s instincts to scratch in fun, holiday fashion.”
Extra decor sometimes means more electrical cords, which can be tempting “chew toys” for your pet. Freeman recommends pet parents take special care to ensure electrical cords for festive lighting are not accessible by taping them down or covering them to help prevent injuries. Also remember to keep glass ornaments, tinsel, pinecones and light stands out of reach of your furry friend.
For more pet-friendly tips for the holiday season, visit petsmart.com.