This year, my office opted to collect items for shelters—animal shelters. The holidays can be hell on pets. Between strangers coming in and out of the house and the parties, the overall chaos of the season can make a pet miserable. So, besides supporting your favorite animal charity, here are some things you can do to help your own pets have a happy holiday:
1. Make sure your pet have some private space. If friends or family come over and the animal gets too weirded out, gently lead them to their happy space and get them out of the crowd. If your place is too damned small, see what you can do in the back yard for your pets. Maybe you can't afford a dog house or a cat cottage, but you can MacGyver a lean-to with some dry bedding for them.
2. Holiday décor is baaaaaad for pets. They want to play with your balls and ornaments, eat your poinsettias and mistletoe, and help unwrap presents for you beneath the tree. All of the festive crap you have around is most likely dangerous. Many plants are toxic if pets eat them or rub against them. Ribbons, hooks, glass ornaments and tinsel make for bad toys. Be careful where you put your decorations so tiny paws can't reach them.
3. Water under fresh-cut Christmas trees can cause digestive problems in animals if they lap it up while you're not looking. Sometimes it contains chemicals to help keep the tree fresh longer. Cover the stand so pets can't get to the liquid. Also, if your pets live outside, make sure they have plenty of water and that it's in a liquid state, not frozen.
4. In general, leftovers and holiday food in general are not great for your pets. One year, I had a friend take care of my golden lab, Parker. My friend made hand-dipped chocolates as holiday treats for her family. Sadly, Parker ate the chocolates while she was at work, and it almost killed him. Onions are bad for cats and dogs, as is garlic powder. And chicken bones are not the only bones to look out for—turkey and ham bones also are brittle and can cause choking from splinters, and even death.
If you want to donate to your local shelter this season, know that they need money, animal toys, canned low-salt chicken and beef broth, blankets and towels, leashes, crates, litter, poop bags, Kongs, peanut butter, canned pumpkin, canned and dry animal food, treats and medications. Anything your fur-babies like or need, our local homeless pets need, too. The shelters in your town are always asking for help on behalf of our furry friends. Here's wishing you and yours a Fleas Navidad and a Barky New Year!