If you don’t already have enough lists this holiday season, Tidmore Veterinary Hospital has one more. We’ve planned for your pet’s safety with this list of 10 essential supplies. 

#1: Hands-free dog leash

If your house resembles Grand Central Station during the holidays, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your dog. A hands-free leash connects to a tether, and is a great way to prevent accidental escape while you’re hosting guests.

Curious noses and paws may help themselves to holiday foods and wrapped presents under the tree. A hands-free leash also allows you to keep your dog safe and supervised, while allowing them to enjoy the festivities.

#2: Pet exercise pen or crate

The holiday meal can be a bustling and boisterous occasion—and your pet can easily snag something from the table. Unfortunately, many holiday dishes are laden with ingredients, such as fat, salt, onion, garlic, leeks, dairy, caffeine, chocolate, xylitol, raisins, grapes, and nuts, which are dangerous for pets. 

Don’t take a risk with your precious pet, or spend your dinner constantly scolding them for begging, jumping, or stealing food. An exercise pen or crate containing a comfortable bed and some food-stuffed toys can provide peace for you both. If separation upsets your pet, station their crate or pen with you in the dining room.

#3: Pressure-mounted pet gates

Your holiday decorations are stunning—so, don’t let them lead to a stunning veterinary bill. If your pet is entranced by the Christmas tree’s twinkling lights and ornaments, or is known to sample holiday houseplants or tiny figurines, limit your decor to a few rooms, and use walk-through pressure-mounted pet or baby gates to temporarily restrict your pet’s access. While they won’t stop some cats, gates are an effective barrier for most dogs and less agile felines, and an alternative to crating.

#4: Hollow food toys for pets

Stock up on hollow rubber pet toys that can be filled with food, including Classic Kongs, West Paw Toppls, and lickable textured mats for cats and brachycephalic dogs. Food toys are a great way to preoccupy your pet during confinement, and they provide natural stress-relief as pets lick or chew the tasty treats. Introduce these toys before the holidays, if possible, to ensure your pet can play responsibly. Use only pet-safe ingredients, and adjust their meals to prevent weight gain. 

Prepare these toys in advance, and keep several in the freezer for when unexpected guests arrive.

#5: Puzzle toys for pets

Puzzle toys can effectively exercise your pet during the holidays, when they may not receive their usual walk or play time. Puzzles encourage your pet to use their senses to access hidden treats, safely simulating their natural hunting skills. Sniffing and seeking are gratifying—and tiring—activities that will leave pets satisfied and less stressed by the changes in their home environment. 

Supervise your pet initially, to ensure they know how to play, and don’t chew or swallow any pieces.

#6: Pets-only hideaway

If you find the holidays overwhelming, imagine how your pet feels. Frightened and friendly pets both need a place to escape the hustle and bustle, especially if you have well-meaning but overly affectionate guests! Before the festivities begin, establish a cozy hiding place for your pet in a back room or low-traffic area. Include a comfy bed, their favorite toys, water, and a litter box or food, to ensure they are not forced to venture out before they’re ready. Ask guests not to disturb your pet while they rest in this area.

#7: Pet ID tags and microchip

One in three pets will go missing in their lifetime, and many are lost during the holidays. Pets can easily slip through open doors and gates, dodging past delivery drivers and visitors. Dress your pet in the finest attire this season with a well-fitting collar and current identification tags. Also, have your pet microchipped at Tidmore Veterinary Hospital, ensuring that the chip is registered with the manufacturer so you can be contacted if your missing pet is found.

#8: Calming pet pheromones

Synthetic pheromones are an easy way to calm your pet during stressful times. Feliway and Adaptil simulate the natural chemical communication between cats and their environment, and mother dogs to their puppies, providing comfort and a sense of security. Pheromones provide safe, odorless reassurance to your pet, and are available in a convenient room diffuser or collar for steady support. 

#9: Pet-safe gifts

Avoid low-cost holiday toys, treats, and chews. The festive red and green rawhide found in nearly every store is made with dangerous chemicals, and can lead to intestinal blockages and illness. Adorable vinyl squeaky toys contain toxic chemicals that have been banned for use in children’s toys. 

Safe alternatives include up-cycled DIY dog and cat toys made from cardboard, and durable non-toxic toys manufactured in the United States from Kong, West Paw, and Planet Dog.

#10: Anti-anxiety medication or supplements

If your pet experiences stress and anxiety around new or busy situations, speak to your veterinarian, to determine if they would benefit from prescription medication or calming supplements.

Check this list twice, to ensure you have everything your pet needs for a purr-fectly safe howl-iday experience. For additional questions, or to refill your pet’s prescriptions before the last-minute rush, contact Tidmore Veterinary Hospital.