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MDARD Encourages Pet Owners to Celebrate the Holidays Safely

Immediate Release: December 20, 2021

Lansing, MI – With the holiday season in full swing, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development encourages pet owners to celebrate responsibly by following six easy steps to help keep their pets healthy and safe.

  • Happy Tummies: Avoid feeding pets people foods

Unfortunately, pets cannot enjoy the same foods that humans do. Fatty foods (like turkey/turkey skin, meat fat, and gravy) can cause pancreatitis—even when consumed in small amounts. Additionally, chocolate, grapes/raisins, onions, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in many candies and gum) can be poisonous to pets; and bones can cause injury and illness.

  • Avoid Temptations: Keep holiday decorations out of reach

Sparkling ornaments, tinsel, and lights not only make for a beautiful display but also catch the eye of our pets. If eaten, these items could cause intestinal blockages or other injuries. Be sure these items are out of their reach, along with candles, potpourris, and some festive flowers/plants—such as mistletoe, holly, and poinsettias. 

  • Search No More: Make sure pets have proper identification

With all the holiday activities, it can be easy for pets to sneak out and get lost. Make sure that pets have identification tags and microchips that are up to date with current contact information to ensure they can be reunited quickly with their owners.

  • Cleared for Take-off: Ensure your pet is fit for travel

If you are traveling with your pets, different states, countries, commercial carriers, and even lodging facilities can all have additional requirements for your pets to accompany you. Talking to your veterinarian can help you determine what steps or documents might be needed to ensure your pet is ready to go. More resources can also be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pet Travel website.

  • Destress and Decompress: Have a quiet space for your pets

Holiday celebrations can be loud and overly stimulating for pets. It is important to have a quiet space set aside to go if they are getting too stressed. Also, have the room stocked with their food, water, litter pan, etc., if they would like to maintain their distance for an extended time.

  • Spread Only Joy: Keep pets away if you are sick

Sometimes when we are sick, our pets can get sick too—especially with COVID-19. In Michigan, both a cat and a dog were confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 in humans. Both animals became ill through close contact with their owners after contracting COVID-19. 

If you or a member of your household suspects or tests positive for COVID-19, protect your pets by avoiding direct contact with them. Or, if you have COVID-19 and must care for a pet, it is recommended to wear a mask and wash your hands before and after interacting with them. More guidance can be found on the Centers for Disease Control’s website.

If you think your pet is sick, please contact your veterinarian.

Following these tips can help your pets stay holly, jolly, and safe this holiday season. If there are any concerns about your pets’ health now or beyond the holidays, please talk to your veterinarian.