By Dr. Ashley Powell, DVM

The holidays are almost here! Soon, we’ll be putting up decorations, preparing holiday meals and treats, and convening with family and friends—furry ones included. To ensure that this time together is safe and enjoyable for you and your four-legged companions, we have compiled a list of precautions you can take to keep your pets safe and cozy!

  • Keep decorations and seasonal plants out of your pet’s reach.
    If you opt for holiday décor, make sure these items are secured and safe. Keep strings lights taut with cables or twist ties, hang tree ornaments and tinsel out of reach from curious pets, and make sure someone is monitoring lighted candles when pets are out and about. You can also purchase pet-proof decorations, such as shatter-proof ornaments, artificial trees and flameless electric candles. Make sure to do your research on the toxicity of seasonal plants if you choose to have them. Mistletoe, holly, lilies and poinsettias can be harmful and even poisonous to animals if ingested.
  • Provide a quiet room or crate for your pet when entertaining.
    Consider keeping pets in a separate space from your guests when entertaining. This will prevent overstimulation and accidental ingestion of food and drinks. If you choose to have them join the festivities, make sure someone keeps an eye on them (and out of mischief).
  • If you’re traveling, make arrangements with a trusted pet sitter or kennel.
    This will ensure your pets stay safe and cared for while you are away, without the stress of extensive travel time. If you plan to take your pets with you, and think you may need medication for car sickness or anxiety during the trip, reach out to your veterinarian now to plan accordingly. It is also helpful to be knowledgeable about emergency veterinary clinics in the region you will be visiting in case care is needed.
  • Make sure your pets are tagged and chipped.
    Always a must for pets! If somehow they escape up the chimney with you know who, you’ll be able to track them down!

Dr. Ashley Powell, DVM, is president of the Coastal Virginia Medical Veterinary Association, an organization that provides support to the region’s veterinary community. When she’s not seeing her amazing pet patients at Animal Medical Center of Virginia Beach, she enjoys riding horses, traveling and spending time with her dog, Barley, and cats Vinnie, Citra and Rillo.