With the holiday season in full swing, you may be wondering how to enjoy all the decorations, food, and parties with your pets. After all, studies show a full 70% of us view our pets as members of the family, and it stands to reason we would want to include them in the festivities. But sometimes the holiday hustle and bustle can leave room for a holiday pet accident or emergency, which is the last thing any of us want.

So, let’s talk about some holiday pet safety tips that will keep your season merry and bright.

Flawed Feasts

Whatever winter holiday you celebrate is certain to be filled with delicious foods that make our mouths water. You can bet your pets’ mouths are watering, too. But it’s important to keep them safe around holiday foods.

Most animals don’t tolerate high fat or salty foods. Over indulgence for them means not only GI upset, but more serious complications too, like a foreign body or pancreatitis, a serious and painful inflammation of the pancreas.

Some holiday foods for pets to avoid include:

  • Alcohol
  • Yeasted bread dough
  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol (a sugar substitute)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Chives, onions, and garlic

In addition to these foods, it’s important to help pets avoid these food related items as well:

  • Table scraps and fatty foods including poultry skin and gravy
  • Unattended leftovers
  • Meat string, food wrappers, and aluminum foil
  • Garbage
  • Poultry and other bones

Disastrous Decorations

There may be nothing more beautiful than a Christmas tree, the glow of the Menorah, or strings of twinkling lights. But some of the decor that we love around the holidays can pose serious risks to our pet’s health and safety. Here are a few things to be aware of and watch for when it comes to holiday pet safety.

Christmas tree water – left unattended, some pets will drink Christmas tree water. Often treated with chemicals, this can cause GI upset, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Tinsel and ribbon – these lovely trappings of the season are highly interesting to cats in particular, and have resulted in more than one foreign body obstruction (needing surgery to remove)

Glass and breakable ornaments – the tinkling of ornaments as your pet bats them down is a danger sign. Broken pieces can cause cuts on noses, mouths, and paws.

String lights – pets can become entangled in strings of lights and even get electrocuted if they chew on them. Keep strands up off the floor and out of pet’s reach.

Holiday plants – holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias are a few beautiful holiday plants that are unfortunately toxic to pets. Check the complete poisonous plant list from the ASPCA.

Essential oils – lovely smells of pine, cinnamon, or clove all add to the season, but oils can be toxic to pets if they are ingested or accumulate on the coat and are groomed off. Some pets are very sensitive to smells (certainly more than we are), so always give them a way to avoid essential oil smells if they wish to.  

Holiday Pet Safety

Travel and visiting friends and family are all part of the holiday season, but for our pets, this can be a risk. Many pets don’t love a crowd, and anxiety caused by strange people and loud noises of parties can result in undesirable behaviors. Be sure to consider the following when planning holiday parties and gatherings.

  • If you are entertaining, give your pet a safe and quiet room to escape to. Make sure this room is secure, and that your pet has her bed, water, food, and toys to keep her comfortable and entertained. Check on her often, and praise her for good behavior.
  • If your pet is present at the party, watch the door carefully so that she doesn’t have the chance to scoot out and get lost. Ensure that she’s wearing her collar and tags and that her microchip is registered with your contact information.
  • Make all guests aware of your rules for slipping your pet a treat from the table, and that you are closely supervising the food. If children are present, make sure they are never left unattended with your pet, and teach them how to approach your pet and how to be gentle with any interactions.
  • If you go out, leave your pet at home instead of taking her to unfamiliar surroundings. Pets should never be left unattended in the car, especially in our cold Missouri winter. If anxiety at home is a problem, consider a pet sitter or boarding her at a nearby kennel.

Your friends at Advantage Veterinary Center hope you have a lovely holiday season. If you have any questions or concerns about holiday pet safety or any of the tips here, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Happy holidays!