Like many of us, you’ve probably already decorated your home, and now you are planning your holiday feasts and treats. And, while your plans this year may look a little different due to COVID-19, your pets still deserve the same amount of attention. From potentially dangerous decorations, to hazardous foods, and everything in between, pet health and safety should be a top priority for this holiday and into the new year. Here are four tips to ensure a safe and happy season for the whole family—furry and non-furry.

#1: Keep your pet in their routine

It’s no secret that pets thrive on consistency. They know precisely when it’s time to eat, when the next-door neighbor’s dog walks by the living room window, and when it’s time to head out for one last bathroom break before turning in for the night. When we change a pet’s environment, diet, or exercise plan too abruptly, the resulting distress can manifest itself in a myriad of ways. Although this year has been rife with changes, and the holiday season will likely add more—holiday decorations, furniture rearrangements, visitors, and gatherings—try to keep things as normal as possible for your pets. Feed the same diet at the same time everyday, stick to a regular exercise routine, and don’t move around their bedding or crates. These suggestions are especially important for aging pets who may have declining vision or cognition. Although your holiday guestlist may be small, if you will have visitors, keep them abreast of your pet’s routine, too.

#2: Make pet-safe decor choices

Many of us find joy in sprucing up our homes around the holidays—sometimes in the form of a true spruce. And, while we encourage you to deck the halls this season, do so with your pets in mind. If you have curious pandemic puppies, quarantine kittens, or other rambunctious creatures romping around, you’ll need to ensure that all string lights, candles, plants, and trees are secure and, ideally, out of paws’ reach. String lights are beautiful and illuminating, but they can look like a delightful toy to a cat or an exotic treat to a pup, putting both at risk for electrical shock or gastrointestinal obstruction. Your Christmas tree, whether real or artificial, can tumble over if your feline friend mistakes it for a fun, new climbing structure. Additionally, some popular holiday plants, such as mistletoe, holly, lilies, and poinsettias, can be toxic in varying degrees to pets who ingest them. 

#3: Make some healthy New Year goals for you and your pet

Now that 2020 is almost over—good riddance!—and 2021 is around the corner, conjure up some resolutions to get you and your pet moving and grooving in the new year. Have you always dreamt of taking up cross-country skiing? Or dog sledding? If you’re committed to commuting for winter activity, there are plenty of snowy sports for both two-legged and four-legged creatures alike. Medium to large-breed dogs can make excellent running or hiking partners, but not brachycephalic (i.e., flat-nosed) breeds like bulldogs or pugs. If you have an energetic dog breed (i.e., a Shetland sheepdog or border collie), consider signing up for agility or flyball training classes. Have a water-loving dog? Water-rescue training can be a wonderfully rewarding activity for both pet and owner. Many dogs and cats can also make excellent therapy animals with proper preparation, regardless of size or breed. Whatever pleases you and your pet, consult with your Palisades Veterinary Hospital veterinarian and your own physician before beginning a new exercise regimen. 

#4: Give your pet the gift of their annual wellness exam

You may think your pet is in tip-top shape, but wellness appointments play a crucial role in overall health. What better time to get your pet back on track than to schedule that overdue annual exam? Our skilled veterinary team will thoroughly inspect your pet from nose to tail and examine their health record to determine the tests and treatments they will recommend for your individual pet. From dental health to heartworm disease, routine screening is essential in preventing these 100% avoidable conditions. Delaying a dental check-up, heartworm test, or routine vaccination could lead to a disease that not only puts your pet in danger, but could result in lengthy and costly treatment.

Is your pet due for their check-up? Contact our AAHA-accredited practice today so our talented team can get you and your pet off to a great start in 2021.