By: Alicia Sexauer
The holiday season is a magical time to reconnect with loved ones, deck the halls, and celebrate the spirit of giving. Our pets appear to enjoy the holidays too and some are lucky enough to get their own stocking stuffed with goodies. Fun times can quickly turn to tragedy when pets are exposed to holiday foods, plants and decorations that may realize are a danger to their pet.
Keeping pets safe during the holidays involves first knowing what items are dangerous and then keeping them out of the reach of pets.
Make sure you know how to get to your 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic before there’s an emergency. Talk with your veterinarian in advance to find out where you would need to take your pet and plan your travel route so you’re not trying to find your way when stressed. Always keep these numbers posted in an easy-to-find location in case of emergencies:
- Your veterinarian’s clinic phone number
- 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic (if different)
- ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435 (A fee may apply.)
Quick action can save lives. If you believe your pet has been poisoned or eaten something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately. You may also want to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435. Signs of pet distress include sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.
The holidays are filled with delicious baked goods, confections and other rich foods. We love them, but they can be very harmful to our pets. Some of the most common hazardous holiday foods are chocolate and cocoa, sugarless gum and candy containing xylitol, leftover fatty meat scraps, yeast bread dough and fruit cake.
During the holidays, it is best to keep pets on their regular diets, and it is perfectly acceptable to discourage holiday guests from feeding them any human food.
The AVMA’s Holiday Pet Safety site has many excellent points for keeping your pets safe over the holidays, we thought the below excerpt from their site on decorations was especially informative.
Greenery, lights and Christmas trees can make the holidays festive, but they also pose risky temptations for our pets.
- Christmas trees can tip over if pets climb on them or try to play with the lights and ornaments. Consider tying your tree to the ceiling or a doorframe using fishing line to secure it.
- Water additives for Christmas trees can be hazardous to your pets. Do not add aspirin, sugar, or anything to the water for your tree if you have pets in the house.
- Ornaments can cause hazards for pets. Broken ornaments can cause injuries, and ingested ornaments can cause intestinal blockage or even toxicity. Keep any homemade ornaments, particularly those made from salt-dough or other food-based materials, out of reach of pets.
- Tinsel and other holiday decorations also can be tempting for pets to eat. Consuming them can cause intestinal blockages, sometimes requiring surgery. Breakable ornaments or decorations can cause injuries.
- Electric lights can cause burns when a curious pet chews the cords.
- Flowers and festive plants can result in an emergency veterinary visit if your pet gets hold of them. Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly are among the common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to pets who decide to eat them. Poinsettias can be troublesome as well. The ASPCA offers lists of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats.
- Candles are attractive to pets as well as people. Never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle; it could result in a fire.
- Potpourris should be kept out of reach of inquisitive pets. Liquid potpourris pose risks because they contain essential oils and cationic detergents that can severely damage your pet’s mouth, eyes and skin. Solid potpourris could cause problems if eaten.
Keep an eye on your pets this holiday season so they can continue enjoying the celebrations with you.