Holiday Safety Tips

Keeping the holidays merry and bright, includes keeping your pets healthy and safe through the holiday season. Following a few simple tips can help make sure your holidays are full of cheer and happy tail wags.

Keep the Cookies for Santa

When setting out the milk and cookies, make sure you pup is nowhere near the goodies. Cookies and desserts may contain ingredients that can be harmful to your pet. Chocolate, if ingested, can cause cardiac arrhythmias, blood pressure issues, and gastrointestinal upset. Raisins can lead to kidney disease. And cookie doughs, or yeasted doughs, can be just as harmful and cause upset stomachs and at times intestinal blockage. Consider baking their own dog friendly cookies so they feel like part of the celebration without adding extra worry to your plate. 

Cocktail Caution

While we seek to make the holidays more “merry”, avoid having your pet take a lick or two of your adult beverages. Alcohol ingestion can be very harmful to pets and is very difficult to correct as the liquids are soluble once digested. 

Secure the Christmas Tree

You spent all that time getting your tree to look beautiful and timber there it goes. Avoid unwanted accidents and ensure your tree is secure. If your pet enjoys nibbling on plush ornaments, avoid placing them on the tree or place them in the back or top of the tree so they are out of reach. Use a baby gait or play pen to restrict access to the tree when not directly supervised.


Poisonous Plants

Select holiday plants can be toxic to pets if consumed.

  • Holly may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and lethargy if ingested.
  • Mistletoe has the potential to cause cardiovascular issues, but generally cause gastrointestinal upset.
  • Many types of lilies are toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure.
  • Poinsettias while listed as toxic, tend to be over-rated and mainly cause stomach upset and nausea if ingested.
  • Acorns are a common and welcomed crunchy treat for pups but can also cause gastrointestinal upset and intestinal blockage.

Consider alternative holiday plants to keep your home looking festive and cheerful, while keeping your pet safe.

Lighting Beware

The use of electronics and lighting is one of the most cheerful parts of the holiday. If allowed, curious pets can make this cheer into a nightmare. Pet proof all electrical sockets and make sure electrical boards are not in areas your pet frequents. Some lights can also be a choking hazard. If using lights in or outdoors, secure all lights and décor to avoid inadvertent tangling, choking, or electrical burns from chewing.


Stay Warm and Cozy, Away from the Fire

Ensure your pet does not have access to open flames or fires. Candles can be easily knocked over and cause severe burns to your pet, not to mention a fire hazard for your home. When using fireplaces, avoid having your pet sit too close to the open flame or fireplace grate. Contact burns from hot items can be just as harmful as direct burns from flames. Do not allow your pet access to chewing on start logs and the chemicals can be toxic and harmful if ingested.

Avoid human food

Gastrointestinal upset is one of the most common causes of veterinary visits during the holiday season. While we want our pets to feel like part of the family, we should avoid rich and fatty foods that can cause stomach troubles. Have positive reinforcement foods, or even some special holiday dog treats, around for frequent treating using the right food items. Frozen enrichment toys are great for the holidays as both a positive reward for pets and welcomed directed distraction for pet parents.

Safe & Calming Space with company over

Having a calming area for your pet to seek out and relax in is key during social and holiday gatherings. This can help settle your pet and reduce anxiety that comes about with stressful holiday visits. Calming pheromones around the safe space and even a bandana sprayed with the pheromones and placed on your pet can help further reduce stress.  Wait 15 min between spraying and application of bandana. 

Plan Ahead

While we always want our pets to stay healthy and out of harm’s way, it is always a good idea to plan ahead. Call you vet and learn about their holiday schedule and after-hours care options. These simple steps and make a world of difference if an emergency were to happen and swift action were needed.

Happy Holidays!

Dr. Nicky 

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