The holidays are hectic enough without having to worry about your pet being safe, too. However, as more and more people travel to visit loved ones in different cities and states, your pets can fall prey to animal cruelty if you’re not careful.
To keep your pets safe this holiday season, follow these eight tips.
1) Protect Your Animals From Dangerous Gifts
The holidays can be a dangerous time for our pets. From poisonous decorations to lots of loud noises, your furry friends are at risk of getting hurt or becoming stressed over all of the changes they have to go through.
Here are some tips on how you can help protect your pets and make sure they enjoy their holiday season as much as possible.
Keep decorations low enough that your pet can’t knock them down and away from any curious paws. If you plan on displaying real candles in glass containers, keep them well out of reach so no animals can get burned by hot wax. And don’t forget about all those fun gifts!
While you may be tempted to wrap up some catnip or dog treats for your pets, make sure they are actually safe for consumption before giving them anything. Remember: Just because it says pet-friendly doesn’t mean it is!
Some toys also contain dangerous chemicals, so read labels carefully before deciding what to give your furry friends. Finally, if you have a tree in your home, make sure there aren’t any poisonous berries hanging off of it (such as mistletoe).
A single berry could kill a small animal like a cat or hamster. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your pets during the holidays.
Tip #1, Before going to bed at night, put food bowls up high where your pets can’t reach them.
Tip #2, Try putting out presents around Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning; then take your time opening presents on Christmas Day so Fido has more time to enjoy his new toy without being worried about having something taken away from him.
In case your pet manages to escape while you’re at work, make sure they have an ID tag with their name and phone number.
The fifth tip is to be mindful of how much excitement your pets can take; if there is too much bustle, they may flee.
Tip #6: When you go outside, always bring along an extra leash just in case one gets tangled up with another person’s pet or gets lost.
2) Don’t Leave Food Out
When you have a new pet, it’s easy to get wrapped up in Christmas preparations and forget about them. But your pet can’t eat Christmas cookies—if you do, they might! Make sure you clean up after your pet while prepping for the holidays.
Don’t let food sit out on counters or in other areas where pets can access it. Weighing down foods with plates or cans is one way to keep them away from an animal’s reach. If you have cats, make sure they are inside during holiday parties; if they aren’t used to loud noises or crowds of people, they could run off when doors are opened.
And don’t leave pets alone in cars: It may be tempting to leave Fido in a warm car while you run into Target, but temperatures inside vehicles heat up quickly and can cause serious harm or even death for animals left inside. Plus, leaving animals unattended like that is illegal in many states.
3) Cover Windows
During winter, trees and bushes can lose their leaves and branches—and so can your window screens. Take a few minutes now to review them for damage or gaps large enough for critters to fit through. You don’t want a holiday surprise!
If you need new screens, experts recommend getting them at least two weeks before Thanksgiving. Hardware stores are often very busy in late October and early November, meaning supplies may be limited.
Also, consider making repairs yourself if you have basic skills. It could save money and time. Just make sure you know how to handle tools properly. For example, use an electric drill with safety goggles, gloves, and hearing protection; never use a hammer.
And when removing old screening material, do it outside or with good ventilation because it contains asbestos fibers that can be harmful if inhaled. When installing new screening material, make sure all cut edges are sealed using duct tape (the best choice) and leave no holes larger than 1/4 inch around fasteners like screws or nails.
4) Keep Ladders Away From Windows
One of the top holiday hazards, according to two U.S. Fire Administration reports, is a person falling off a ladder and into a Christmas tree or other objects in his home. To prevent falls, keep ladders on flat surfaces that won’t cause them to tip over—it may seem obvious, but many people use ladders as steps or tables without realizing how dangerous they can be.
Make sure your ladder has rubber feet so it doesn’t slip, and avoid leaning it against anything that could cause it to fall. Also, make sure your ladder isn’t too tall for your ceiling: An extension ladder should never exceed more than four times its height when fully extended.
5) Unplug Devices That Could Burn
Unplug and don’t use any devices that have a heating element—this includes space heaters, hair dryers, and electric blankets. If you leave any of these plugged in while they’re not in use, they could overheat and cause a fire.
Check cords for damage or fraying regularly. It’s also important to keep your pets away from lit candles and other sources of an open flame. Don’t forget about Christmas trees! They need water daily, so make sure they stay fresh by keeping them well-watered throughout December.
And never put a tree up before December 1st; it can still be too early in some areas. Plus, waiting gives you more time to decorate! Make sure there are no strings on or around your tree, as even small pieces of tinsel can hurt animals who like to chew.
Finally, consider putting an extension cord under a rug and running it through an unused doorway into another room if there isn’t enough wall socket space near where you want to set up decorations.
6) Talk To Kids (And Adults!) About Fire Safety
The holidays are often characterized by festive candles and open flames. If you’re hosting a party, talk to your guests about fire safety and make sure they don’t leave candles burning unattended. Make sure young children know not to touch any lit candles.
Before you light a candle, read up on how much heat is produced by different types of candles, how long they take to burn down, and other ways of staying safe while enjoying candlelight. It can be easy to forget that a lit candle is still very hot after it has been extinguished.
Avoid holiday tree fires: You may have heard that Christmas trees can cause house fires—it’s true! Between 2005 and 2009, there were an average of 2,100 home fires each year caused by Christmas trees.
7) Play It Safe With Candles
Many pets love chasing after a scented candle’s flame, so it’s important to keep your candles up and out of reach. Also, never leave candles unattended—this can be dangerous for your pet and you! When bringing candles into your home, read all packaging labels carefully.
Never leave burning candles alone with pets or children. And finally, put them out before leaving them unattended for any period of time. A lit candle is a fire hazard even when left in an upright position, so please make sure that you extinguish all candles when they are not in use.
Remember: You are responsible for keeping your family safe around fire. If you ever have questions about using candles safely around kids or pets, contact your local fire department immediately.
8) Use Battery Operated Lights
If you’re looking for a safer alternative to candles, opt for battery-operated flameless lights. They not only provide you with a safe option but they also add ambiance and flair to your holiday decorating.
And since there are so many different styles of these lights available, you can easily find ones that match your décor perfectly. The best part is that they never run out of batteries so you don’t have to worry about having extra cash on hand just in case something goes wrong.
They can be found at most major retailers and online stores, making them easy to purchase in bulk if needed.