Prepping for the Holidays With Pets

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MG 0159

What You Need to Know to Enjoy the Season With Your Furry Friends

The holidays are here, which means there will be plenty of love, laughter, family gatherings and, of course, food. The festivities include just about everyone — parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and the pets who we often consider closer than our family. As a leading pet facility in Houston, Meadowlake Pet Resort & Training Center receives a lot of questions from clients around this time of year about what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to table scraps, decorations, travel and general safety.

One of the biggest misconceptions — and hazards — when it comes to pets are table scraps. Around this time of year, family dinners often include decadent foods such as marshmallow-coated yams and bacon-wrapped anything and everything. Typical ingredients such as garlic, onions, leeks and scallions are all part of the allium family and are poisonous to dogs and cats. Grapes, raisins and chocolate are of the same vein and can even lead to kidney failure if pets consume enough. Avoiding fatty and butter-coated meats and vegetables is also key to keeping your pets from getting sick. Green beans are a side dish staple and a healthy and easy snack for pets as long as they are served plain. Regular white meat is also OK, but avoid fattier dark meat, bones, skin or leftover twine — all are choking hazards. Surprisingly, cranberry sauce is safe for pets to eat; just make sure it’s low in sugars and does not contain the artificial sweetener xylitol or high-fructose corn syrup.

Deck the halls, but skip the tinsel! Tinsel is a choking hazard and can cause intestinal blockages if consumed by pets. Any decorations, particularly those with hooks, are also a danger if swallowed, as they can wreak havoc on your dog’s insides. Keep in mind that holiday candles are a fire hazard if they are within reach of your pets. Place candles up high and on sturdy surfaces that won’t get bumped, and never leave a candle lit when you’re not home.

Dogs and cats are naturally curious; and once a mysterious tree pops up, they will likely try to explore it. Pet owners should be mindful of any live pines, spruces or firs they decide to bring into their home for the holidays. A tree stand’s water reservoir is often easily accessible to dogs and cats and can be very harmful. The tree can release toxic sap into the water basin that will smell aromatic to pets. Many fresh trees are also preserved with pesticides and fertilizer water additives — including aspirin, which can be especially fatal for cats, who are unable to effectively break down the drug because of the absence of a necessary protein in their livers. While veterinarians occasionally prescribe aspirin for dogs to treat various conditions, too much can be deadly for them as well. To avoid any mishaps, block access to the tree stand by thoroughly covering it with aluminum foil and a well-wrapped tree skirt. It is also important to ensure the tree is anchored securely to avoid a disastrous fall or spills. Check your tree stand often to make sure that the eyebolts are still locked into place.

Pets are often considered an essential part of the family, and owners insist on traveling with them. Air travel is not only stressful, but it also can be quite dangerous for pets if not handled properly. Conditions in the cargo hold of commercial jets are unpredictable, with temperature fluctuations, extremely loud noises and significant drops in air pressure — all in a dark space. The best bet to avoid an air travel mishap is to leave your pet with a caretaker you trust. At Meadowlake, we offer several options for boarding to ensure pets rest easy while their owners are away. In addition to providing a clean, comfortable lodging space, facilities will offer activities for pets to enjoy during their stay such as group and private play sessions, training and spa treatments. Pets who receive plenty of interaction and activity while lodging with us are often returned to their owners happier and healthier.

All of us at Meadowlake Pet Resort & Training Center wish you and your family — including your furry family members! — a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.


About the author: Laura Koch is the Executive Manager of Meadowlake Pet Resort & Training Center. Koch began her animal care career working at a pet store at 14 years old. Her vast experience spans shelters and zoos and includes the Houston Zoo, where she helped care for their collection of more than 4,500 animals. For more information on Meadowlake, call 713-413-1633 or visit


Photos courtesy of Meadowlake Pet Resort & Training Center


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