It’s that holly-jolly time of year again and time to think about potential holiday pet hazards! Everyone in the family wants to get in on the holiday fun, including your furry companions. Most loving pet owners want to include their pets in the festivities, but there are some things to be cautious of as you celebrate. From eating something toxic to holiday decoration hazards, the risks to pets are many.

The best way to keep the season a joyous one is to know more about holiday pet dangers and take precautions. You’re in luck! Your friends at Westarbor Animal Hospital are here to tell you what to be aware of, to make everyone’s holiday bright.

O Christmas Tree

What’s the most iconic decoration of this beautiful season? The traditional lighted tree. To a cat or dog, though, the Christmas tree can spell trouble. Securely anchor your Christmas tree, so that it doesn’t tip and fall if your pets can’t resist temptation. Use pet-friendly tree decorations, such as non-breakable bulbs and larger ornaments that pets cannot swallow, and avoid edible ornaments.

Be aware that the water in Christmas tree stands for live trees may contain chemicals and preservatives, as well as bacteria that can harm your pet if they drink from it.

Tinsel-less Town

You don’t see as much tinsel on trees these days but kitties love these sparkly, light-catching strands that are easy to bat around and carry. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel. (The same is true of curling ribbon on packages.) A nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration, and possible surgery.

No Feasting for the Furries

Most of you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with Xylitol. This is equally true for other toxic foods, like grapes/raisins, garlic and onions, alcohol, and macadamia nuts. Secure uncovered trash cans and open compost, where a nosy pooch can scrounge up something bad for them. Ask guests not to give scraps of food to your pet and keep an eye on their plates. And keep a close eye on kids, who naturally drop things on the floor. Pets should not have fatty or rich human foods to avoid pancreatitis and other digestive issues.

Toy Joy

Looking to stuff your pet’s stocking? Choose gifts that are safe.

Some dogs will tear their toys apart and swallow the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines. Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible. Kongs stuffed with mashed banana or peanut butter are a favorite.

When it comes to cats, look for toys without string or yarn. Like tinsel, these strands can create an obstruction if swallowed. Instead, go for catnip-filled mice, the Cat Dancer, laser pointer, or robotic or automated toys.

Forget the Mistletoe and Holly

These traditional plant favorites can make pets sick when ingested. Holly results in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Mistletoe can create gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Many varieties of lilies are lethal, resulting in kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for festive and beautiful artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.

Holiday Glow

Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Switch to battery-operated candles instead for great ambience without the risk.

House Rules

Make guests aware of any rules related to your pet, including keeping doors and gates securely closed. Make sure to lock all medications in places that a curious pet can’t find.

A Room of Their Own

The holidays can be hectic for everyone and stressful for your fur friend. Give your pet a quiet space to retreat to, complete with fresh water and a place to nap away from the hubbub.

As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that many pets are afraid of the noise. Loud poppers and fireworks can terrify pets and damage sensitive ears. Use a white noise machine or set the volume on a radio low to camouflage outside noise.

Avoiding Holiday Pet Hazards

We hope this overview has given you a good sense of what could become a veterinary emergency and what you can do to avoid one. If you have any questions about holiday pet hazards, or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us.

Have a merry and warm holiday season!

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