Holiday Hazards for Pets

shutterstock_234785815Pets are a part of the family and celebrate the holidays right by our side. It’s important to make your pets feel special during the holiday season, and that includes providing them with a safe environment. Although some of the information on how to protect your pet during the holidays may seem obvious, it can be overlooked with so much activity around you. Visiting friends and family should understand the hazards and review the information with children in the house as well. If you have more specific questions on ways to keep your pet safe during the holidays, call Thompson Hills Animal Clinic to speak with our qualified staff or schedule an appointment.

Do not feed your pet holiday food, drinks, or snacks.
It’s hard to say “No” when your pet just wants a small bite of the holiday food, but it is the best thing for their health. A new toy, bone, or treat will make your pet happy and feel better too. While small amounts of human food can be okay, sticking with products made specifically for animals is ideal. Foods that can be especially dangerous for animals should be covered and kept out of reach.

Fat and Chicken Bones
Fat trimmed from your steak might be the best thing your pet has ever tasted but it can actually lead to pancreatitis. Chicken bones usually crack and break in a dog’s mouth, which can cut their throat and even damage their digestive system.

Grapes, Raisins, and Nuts
Grapes and raisins are another food that is poisonous for dogs or cats. Holiday cakes may contain nuts and grapes and should not be given to pets. Although there are some nuts that can be eaten, it’s best to stay away from them altogether if you aren’t sure about which kind are toxic to animals. Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and pistachios can all be toxic for dogs and the shells are a choking hazard as well.

Chocolate and Candy
Chocolate is harmful for both dogs and cats too. As a staple during the holiday season, chocolate is often left on a table as a snack. Even if the candy is individually packaged or wrapped, using a covered container is encouraged. Although the dangers of chocolate are widely known, many people don’t realize that sugarless candy is sometimes toxic for your pets too. A sugar substitute called “xylitol” is used with a lot of sugarless candies and can make your pet very sick but even cause liver failure in sever cases. Cookies often have chocolate, nuts, or candy and should not be given to pets either.

Alcoholic Drinks
Alcohol is also very harmful to pets. Pick up any drinks that have been left behind and clean up the area at the end of the night. Cats and dogs will lap up puddles of alcohol the is spilled (or poured for them) onto the ground and this can be very harmful if too much is consumed.

Keep your pets away from Christmas lights, tree tinsel, and other holiday decorations.
Putting up decorations is a fun way to prepare for the upcoming holidays. People are attracted to the bright lights and shiny ornaments and our pets react the same way. Take precautions and observe the area before and after decorating for the holidays.

Christmas lights should be safely contained and plugged securely into an outlet.
Dogs and cats are attracted to the small LED lights and will play and chew on them if they are not properly contained. In addition to being an electrical hazard, the lights and cords can be a choking hazard too. It’s a good idea to wrap the cords together with tape and keep them in an outlet that cannot be reached by your pets. Watching “Christmas Vacation” with the family is a good way to remind everyone about the dangers of pets chewing on Christmas lights.

Tinsel should be used sparingly and kept off the floor.
Pets are drawn to the shiny material that is used to decorate for holidays and some pet owners have stopped using tinsel because it can be messy and hard to clean up. While it does look nice on wreaths and Christmas trees, strands of tinsel frequently end up on the ground. This is a serious choking hazard and should be avoided. The same applies for ribbons used to decorate as well.

All holiday ornaments and decorations can be harmful to your pet.
Most ornaments are made with cheap materials and can break if your dog or cat begins to chew on them. This is a major choking hazard and can also cut the inside of their mouth and stomach. Keep the decorations off low branches on your Christmas tree and cover the tree stand to prevent your pet from drinking stagnant or fertilized water.

Keep all holiday plants safely out of reach from pets.
Another thing we often see during the winter season is a collection of decorative plants that symbolize or have an association with the holidays. Like the other decorations, plants look nice but come with risks for your pet.

Poinsettias and Christmas Cactus can cause problems for your pet.
Dogs and cats that have eaten poinsettias or christmas cactus are not in serious danger, so there is no reason to panic, but they will experience some discomfort. This normally causes irritation to the mouth and throat and will only last a few hours. Cats will have a more severe reaction and the irritation may last longer.

Holly and Mistletoe
Holly and mistletoe is toxic for dogs and cats. When ingested, these plants will cause your pet to get very sick. In most cases, this includes vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, however, ingesting mistletoe or holly can cause heart arrhythmia. Keeping all plants away from your pets is the best way to avoid the situation so everyone can relax and enjoy the holidays together.

If your pet requires immediate assistance, stay calm and call Thompson Hills Animal Clinic at 660-827-5310. A qualified staff member is available 24 hours a day to help you through the process.