Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

A Joyful Holiday Season for ALL!

Attention, all you animal-lovers! Help spread the word about making the holidays as great for our pets as they are for us! We’d like to urge everyone to keep the following in mind this month:

  1. Remember that getting a pet is a huge decision and a big commitment. When you purchase or adopt a pet, you’re agreeing to care and provide for that animal for his entire life, even if he gets sick or you move or your lifestyle changes. We all know that there are far too many pets given up to shelters each year because they were acquired without forethought or serious intention.
  2. Speaking of shelters, and with December 2 being National Mutt Day, if you’ve been thinking about getting a pet for a holiday gift, why not adopt one from a shelter or rescue? Think about how amazing Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa could be not only for your loved ones but for an animal longing desperately for a forever home. Carefully and intentionally adopting an animal from a shelter doesn’t have to be any less exciting than putting a puppy or kitten under the Christmas tree. You can wrap up the starter kit (leash, collar, bed, carrier, food, treats, toys, etc) and watch the joy of someone unwrapping it, knowing that she’ll get to pick out her own perfect pet! You get double the fun because the day you visit the shelter to select your pet, the gift keeps on giving! You’ll also feel great knowing you gave a pet a second chance at happiness.
  3. Costumes and decorations: Yes, these are fun during the holidays, and it’s amusing to dress pets up or decorate their cages, but make sure that you’re being safe. Inspect the decorations and costumes to ensure that they’re durable, non-toxic, and don’t lend themselves to being eaten or choked on or tangled up in. Costumes should be breathable and comfortable to move around in. If your pet is miserable, be kind and take it off after you get that photo op! Things to especially avoid: tinsel, string, wrappers, holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, amaryllis. Candles and lights should always be put out or turned off when no one is around – and make sure your pet isn’t playing with them when you’re not home. Be wary of leaving gum, candies, chocolates, treats, and other food out – or wrapped under a tree – as many of these things can cause stomach upset, choking, or even death.
  4. Same goes for table scraps – remember that fatty foods can be extremely hard to digest, especially for smaller pets, and in general they’re just not good for pets. If you want to give your pet an edible treat, purchase something intended for pets. (And chicken, turkey, beef bones – all bones from your table – are a big no-no!)
  5. If you have a holiday tree, make sure it’s secured so that it doesn’t fall over due to the attention of curious or excited pets! And make sure the water in the stand doesn’t grow stagnant so that your kitty doesn’t drink it and get an upset tummy.
  6. Some other things folks often don’t think about but that can lead to trouble: batteries and alcoholic drinks. Just be aware!
  7. Just as holidays can be stressful for people, they can be doubly stressful for pets. No, they’re not pressuring themselves to select the perfect gift or make the perfect meal, but they pick up on our stress (even unconscious signals, body language, and tones of voice), plus their routine may be shaken up, house guests may invade their territory, people are going in and out and may leave the door open. Make sure to let house guests know to keep food, medicines, and nicotine out of reach. Make sure your pet is wearing an ID tag at all times in case she gets out.

Here’s what the American Humane Society suggests:

Make the holidays special for your pet

Provide your pet some extra love and attention to let them know they’re not forgotten during busy holiday times.

  • Take your dog for an extra walk — it’ll help both you and your pet relieve some of that holiday stress.
  • Keep a supply of pet treats handy and reach for one before you’re tempted to toss your pet that little bite of “people” food.
  • Let your pet get into the gift-giving spirit by making a donation (e.g., food, litter, toys) to your local shelter in his name.
  • Perhaps your dog would like a new bed, or your cat a new scratching post. Birds love mirrors or other fun items for the cage. Get creative!
  • Enjoy some extra snuggle time.

Whichever treat or special activity you choose, you’ll be enhancing the bond you share — and your pet will love it!

And finally, we here at wish you all a wonderful, peaceful, joyful, and fur-filled holiday season. Be safe, be good to your fur-kids, and Happy New Year!

Written by: Ashley Denham Busse
Ashley Denham Busse has worked part-time for since 2006. is a professional pet-sitting company located in Old Town Alexandria, celebrating more than 13 years of providing daily walks and customized in-home pet care. Visit or email 

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