Having A Safe And Peaceful Holiday With Both Toddlers And Pets

Happy Holidays! The upcoming weeks will likely be hectic for a lot of people. For kids, this time of year is full of wonder, joy, and excitement. We love seeing adorable holiday photos of children and their furry buddies! While pets and kids can become best buddies, there may also be some challenges here, especially with young kids. In this article, a veterinarian from Holly Springs, MS shares helpful advice on ensuring a peaceful holiday season for both kids and pets.


Safety Issues With Decorations For Kids And Pets


For the most part, the same general petproofing protocols should apply to both kids and pets.

The biggest rule of thumb? Anything small and sharp is a choking hazard. Generally, anything smaller than the hole in a toilet paper roll should be considered dangerous. 


We also recommend that people with toddlers and/or pets decorate their trees very carefully. Don’t put anything small or fragile on the lower branches. Ornaments that are shiny and/or breakable should be near the top, along with anything with strings or ropes, such as lights, tinsel, garlands, popcorn strands, and ribbons. 


If you’re using a real tree, use plain water in the bowl. The store may have included a packet of “food”, but that could potentially contain harmful chemicals that you definitely don’t want your pet drinking. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to cover the water bowl.  Be sure to also collect any fallen needles or tinsel, which can also pose choking risks and cause internal injuries if consumed.


Candles and fireplaces can also be dangerous to pets and children. Make sure the candles are in high, secure spots that are not accessible to your furry friend or their tiny human pal. If you have a fireplace, use a thick grate in front of it. 


Plants are another concern. Holiday plants can enhance any room or house, but many are toxic to children and pets. Poinsettias, holly, ivy, mistletoe, and peace lilies, which are dangerous to cats, are some of the most dangerous. Keep these plants in a high, secure location if you choose them.


Toddlers And Pets: Safety WIth Gifts


Many children’s presents are unsafe to pets. Items containing small parts, like action figures, doll clothes, batteries, tiny accessories, or game pieces, are all choking hazards. If you have a dog, think twice before purchasing stuffed animals for the kids. Our canine companions are often drawn to stuffed animals. You wouldn’t want your pooch fixating on that singing polar bear you bought for your nephew! That could result in altercations. (Don’t forget to give your cat some of the empty boxes after everyone has opened their gifts.)


Holly Jolly Holiday Food Safety


Seasonal foods may also pose a danger. Young children may choke on hard candies, but it’s usually our furry friends that are at greater risk here. Some unsafe foods for pets include chocolate, garlic, onion, grapes, and raisins meat on the bone, raw dough, avocado, anything with seeds or pips, xylitol, and/or excessive amounts of salt, sugar or fat. Your Holly Springs, MS veterinarian can offer more insight.


There is another danger here: Kids may share ‘goodies’ with their pets, often without realizing what is safe and what is not. Keep a close eye on things.


Season’s Greeting: Introducing Pets And Toddlers


First impressions are extremely important to our four-legged friends! Take a few minutes to play with your pet before company arrives to burn off those zoomies.


Dogs and cats both get much of their information about the world through their cute noses. If the kids are small enough to still need strollers or car seats, let Fido smell those first. Then, allow your pup to sniff the little ones’ hands. Fido  tends to take his door dog duties very seriously. Some pooches get a bit too excited when it comes to greeting people. Small children can become scared, and may even fall over. You may want to take your furry friend outside or to a larger room for the meet and greets if he is very excitable.


As for kitties, well, Fluffy will introduce herself when she’s ready. Don’t force it! (Note: One of the first things children should learn about our feline overlords  is the fact that you can never force them  to do anything … except perhaps by telling them not to.) 


Always Promote Good Behavior And Etiquette


Manners are important on both sides here. Make sure Fido knows the basic commands, such as Sit, Stay, and Come.


Teach children how to properly pet our furry friends. (Always go in the direction of Fluffy and Fido’s fur, and avoid pulling tails, ears, or whiskers.) It’s also important for them to understand that they should never force attention on a dog or cat. If your pet appears uneasy, give him space, and provide him with a comfy place to retreat to. 


Always Err On The Side Of Caution


It’s important to closely monitor interactions between pets and children, and be on the lookout for any signs of discomfort. 


Kitties can still cause injuries with their sharp claws, but dogs are the bigger safety concern here. It’s worth noting that dogs bite children more frequently than they do adults. This is possibly due to their size, but also because they can make Fido feel uneasy. Young children can move quickly. They can also be quite loud, not to mention a bit clumsy. Plus, their toys may resemble pet toys, which may also cause confusion and potential conflicts. 


While bigger dogs may pose a higher risk than smaller ones, ultimately it is the personality of the dog that matters most. Some of our canine companions are very tolerant, and will be completely unfazed by a child accidentally falling on top of them or using them as a pillow. In fact, some pooches appoint themselves as furry guardians to kids, which is always charming. On the other hand, some dogs are easily agitated and have shorter tempers. However, even a small breed like a Chihuahua can cause injury with a bite, and even the sweetest dog can bite if hurt or threatened.


If you know or suspect that your canine pal is fearful, reactive, or aggressive, please take some extra precautions. We also recommend being extra careful with newly adopted pups, as you may not be familiar with their pet peeves and quirks yet. 


However, there’s also a risk to the pet: children can harm smaller animals by picking them up or holding them incorrectly. Carefully monitor all interactions. 


Enjoy The Moment


Kids and pets both can benefit from spending time together. They also both benefit from the love, friendship, and companionship of each other’s company. Don’t forget to snap some seasonal cute photos! 


In conclusion, pets and children are an adorable and pretty perfect pairing. However, it is important to take some general precautions to reduce the chances of mishap.


Thank you for considering us as your local Holly Springs, MS animal clinic. If you have any questions about your pet’s health or care, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to help!

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