Holiday Pet Safety Tips

While the holiday season is a time for joy and celebration, it can be a dangerous and stressful time of year for our pets. Here are some tips to help keep your furry loved ones safe, happy and healthy this holiday season.

Foods to avoid:

  • Chocolate – This sweet treat is poisonous to dogs and cats, so make sure to keep all treats and gifts containing chocolate out of reach.

  • Rich and fattening meat scraps, like turkey and ham – These meats can lead to inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) and cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain for dogs. Some breeds, such as Miniature Schnauzers, Shetland Sheepdogs and Yorkshire Terriers are predisposed to pancreatitis, so keeping fatty meats away from them is very important.

  • Sugar free sweets containing xylitol, a natural sweetener – When consumed by dogs, sweets containing xylitol causes severe low blood sugar, which can lead to liver failure and death.

  • Yeast dough – Consuming yeast dough can cause a painful, bad bout of gas, as well as dangerous bloating. If yeast dough is ingested, secondary alcohol poisoning is also a risk, as a dog’s stomach is warm and moist, providing the perfect environment for the yeast to rise and for the sugars to be converted into carbon dioxide and alcohol.

  • Alcohol – Be careful to keep cocktails where your pets cannot get into them. Alcohol can make your pet very weak and sick and can even send them into a coma which can lead to death from respiratory failure.

  • Grapes and raisins – Keep the fruitcake, chicken salad and any other foods containing raisins or grapes away from Fido, because these toxic fruits can lead to kidney damage or failure.

  • Onions – All onions, cooked or raw, are poisonous for dogs and cats. The ingestion of onions can cause damage to the red blood cells and can even cause the red blood cells to burst.

Holiday Plants to Watch Out For:

  • Lilies – These flowers are extremely toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure.

  • Mistletoe – American Mistletoe is mildly toxic to pets, while European Mistletoe is very toxic. Make sure to hang it high and out of reach of pets.

  • Holly – If consumed, Holly can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

Potentially Dangerous Holiday Decorations:

  • Christmas trees – To avoid any injuries from a tipped over Christmas tree, consider securing your tree by tying it to the ceiling or a doorframe using fishing line.

  • Tinsel – Cats find shiny tinsel very appealing, and may be tempted to chew and swallow it, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract that can require surgery to correct as well as vomiting and dehydration.

  • Ornaments – Hang ornaments out of reach of pets to avoid injuries from broken ornaments and to keep pets from ingesting them, which can cause intestinal blockage.

  • Electric Lights – Always unplug holiday lights when you are not in the room to keep pets safe from burns and electrocution.

  • Potpourris – Liquid potpourris contain essential oils and detergents that can cause injury to your pet’s mouth, eyes and skin.

Holiday Parties and Visitors:

  • The commotion of holiday gatherings can make many pets upset or nervous. Make sure that your pets have a quite and comfortable place in your home where they are able to get away from the noise and excitement of holiday parties if they want to.

  • If you have guests who would like to bring their pets along with them, and you don’t know how your pets will get along with each other, it’s always a good idea to have the pets spend time together while monitoring their interactions before they get together for the first time at a gathering.

  • If you have a pet who gets nervous when people come by to visit, keeping them in another room or in a crate with a toy that they love can help ease their nerves.

  • Always pay close attention to your pets when people are entering or leaving your home to make sure that they don’t slip out of the door and get loose. It’s always a good idea to make sure that your pet is microchipped and that your information is up to date just in case your pet does get out.

  • Make sure to clear the food from your tables and counters once you are done serving it and to keep your trash out of your pet’s reach to avoid them getting into foods or waste that could make them sick or injure them.
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