If your holiday spirit needs a spark, rev up your holly jolly by watching these dachshunds opening presents. (See you back here in about two minutes!) Now that you are inspired, start making your pet’s holiday gift list. Your four-legged pal is likely your favorite family member for whom to shop because they love every gift you give them. But, if you need some helpful hints on what to get your furry pal that will not cause a holiday veterinary emergency, read our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team’s nonhazardous pet gift list, and jump-start your present shopping.

#1: Give your pet a new collar with up-to-date identification

Your pet will be the envy of the neighborhood when they wear their fashionable new collar—complete with an updated identification (ID) tag. An outdated ID tag is no help if your pet runs away. Your pet can easily go missing during the holiday season’s craziness, and an up-to-date pet ID tag can be your pet’s return-ticket home if they bolt through an open door. If your pet is microchipped, contact the manufacturer’s database to confirm the chip’s registration, and ensure your contact information is current. If your pet is not microchipped, our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team can quickly perform this simple procedure, which provides your four-legged pal with permanent identification. 

#2: Give your pet safe, healthy treats

The holidays are synonymous with delicious foods. While your pet’s begging eyes can be hard to resist, most popular holiday dishes and desserts contain ingredients that are toxic for pets, including xylitol (i.e., sugar substitute), alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, garlic, onions, chives, nutmeg and other spices, nuts, raisins, and grapes. Avoid sharing table scraps with your pet, and rather, indulge them with healthy, pet-safe treats—countless recipes are just a Google search away—or offer your four-legged pal small amounts of these tasty fruits and vegetables: 

  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Green peas
  • Carrots 
  • Green beans
  • Cooked sweet potatoes 
  • Broccoli 

If your pet inadvertently consumes a toxic food or household poison (e.g., antifreeze) during the holiday season, immediately contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for emergency guidance. 

#3: Give your anxious pet the gift of calmness

Holiday stress affects everyone. The changes in routine, unfamiliar situations, and new faces can trigger your pet’s anxiety, and may lead to behaviors such as hiding, vocalizing, and reactivity. A pet calming vest—similar to a human’s weighted blanket—applies constant body pressure, which can relieve your four-legged pal’s anxiety, inducing calmness. Pheromone sprays, such as  Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs, can also have a calming effect. If your pet is highly anxious,  contact our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team, and we can prescribe anti-anxiety medications and supplements to ease your dog’s or cat’s distress. When hosting a holiday party, ensure your pet can escape the excitement by providing them a quiet room with their bed, calm background music, and—for distraction—a toy or a food-stuffed Kong

#4: Give your pet safe chew toys

Your pet will never fully appreciate the time, work, and money you invest to transform your home to a winter wonderland. However, your four-legged pal is more than willing to sample, swallow, swat, or chew the fascinating holiday decorations, which can lead to a pet emergency. Ensure your pet stays away from these common dangerous holiday decorations and accessories:

  • Christmas tree   Ensure your Christmas tree’s stand is secure, and—for added stability—consider fastening the tree’s top with fishing line and hooking it to the ceiling or a door frame. Prevent your pet from drinking the water in the Christmas tree stand. However, to help your pet avoid becoming seriously ill if they inadvertently drink the tree water, change the receptacle daily with fresh water, because tree fertilizers and preservatives used to maintain a live tree’s freshness contain harmful chemicals that leach into the stand’s water. In addition, stale Christmas tree stand water can produce harmful bacteria. 
  • TinselIf your pet ingests tinsel or ribbon, these trappings can become bound up in their intestinal tract, causing a blockage—in some cases, cutting through the intestines. If you decorate with tinsel and ribbons, ensure you place them high out of your pet’s reach. 
  • Lights — You may spend several frustrating hours untangling string lights, but ensure your pet does not become entangled in the cords because they may suffer strangulation, or electric shock if they chew a plugged-in cord. To prevent string lights from tempting your pet, and causing a veterinary emergency, use protective plastic covers to bundle loose electric cords together, and keep the lights out of your pet’s reach.
  • OrnamentsYour pet may mistake some Christmas tree ornaments for chew toys—to be fair, they are extremely similar. If your pet swallows a small toy-like ornament, they could choke or experience a dangerous intestinal blockage that may require surgical removal. In addition, a broken glass ornament can cause your pet a skin laceration orif they take a bite—mouth lacerations. To prevent Christmas tree ornaments from tempting your pet, place all ornaments safely on higher branchesout of your four-legged pal’s reach. 

The best way to protect your pet from potentially hazardous decorations is to keep all these trappings out of their reach, and by providing your four-legged pal with appropriate alternatives. To redirect your pet’s attention from holiday decorations, offer them dental chews, and surprise your four-legged pal with a durable nylon or rubber chew toy. Your pet—and you—will appreciate these nonhazardous gifts. 

We hope your pet gets as excited about opening their presents as the dachshunds in the video! Remember—the best gift you can give your pet is good health. Contact our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team to learn additional holiday pet safety precautions, or to schedule your four-legged pal’s microchip procedure or regular wellness exam. From our family to yours: Enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!