The holidays are about creating memories with family and friends, two- and four-legged. But, they also present opportunities for mischief for your pet. Avoid unpleasant memories this holiday season by avoiding festive hazards that could harm your furry friend.

Delicious dangers

Your pet’s favorite part of the holiday season is undoubtedly the delicious aromas wafting from the kitchen. As she sneaks underfoot in hopes of a dropped morsel, be careful about what may fall into her waiting jaws. The abundance of tasty entrees, sides, and desserts during Thanksgiving and Christmas ensures there’s no shortage of toxic foods. Avoid sharing the following holiday treats with your pet:

  • Ham and turkey — Ham is high in fat and sodium, which is the perfect recipe for pancreatitis for cats and dogs, causing vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, lethargy, and abdominal pain. Dark turkey meat and the skin are also chock-full of pancreatitis-causing fat and sodium, as well as the bones that lurk in these holiday favorites. The large ham bone can fracture teeth or become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract, while the more brittle turkey bones can splinter into shards that can perforate your pet’s intestines.
  • Mashed potatoes — Plain mashed potatoes are rather bland, so we often load them up with ingredients that make them more mouth-watering. Garlic, onion powder, butter, and milk can cause serious issues in your pet, including anemia and signs of lactose intolerance.
  • Stuffing — Similar to mashed potatoes, plain stuffing is boring. As we add garlic, onions, seasonings, and spices, the potential for pet toxicity increases.
  • Pies and puddings — We doubt you want to share these delicious desserts, but still, avoid slipping your pet a bite. While plain canned pumpkin has health benefits for pets, pumpkin pie is loaded with sugar, spices, and dairy products, which can cause pets to suffer from holiday-ruining diarrhea. Pecan pies can pose a choking hazard if a small pet sneaks whole pecans from the pie.
  • Salads with grapes or raisins — We often think of salads as healthy, but fruit salads, Waldorf salads, and ambrosia salads can create serious health concerns for your pet, because they usually include grapes or raisins, which can lead to life-threatening kidney failure in dogs.

We’re sure you’re well aware of the dangers that chocolate poses to your pup, but we want to remind pet owners that a small amount of baking chocolate can have serious consequences, such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and cardiac dysfunction. Avoid stockings stuffed full of milk chocolate goodies, as well, as the wrappers can lead to an intestinal obstruction. 

When in doubt about a food’s safety, skip it. Whip up a treat recipe for your dog or cat to help her savor the holidays, too.

Decoration disasters

The holidays are a time to show off your decorative flair, but many festive decorations can create a hazard for your pet. If you’re going all out for the holidays, keep a close eye out for these problems:

  • Strings of lights — Puppies, kittens, and also older pets can chew on inappropriate objects, such as brightly colored light strands. Electric cords may look like a fun rope toy, but they can shock or burn your pet’s mouth, and cause seizures, breathing difficulties, and cardiac arrest.
  • Glass ornaments — If your pet, especially your frisky feline, enjoys batting around balls, consider leaving the bottom half of your Christmas tree bare. Glass ornaments placed in reach of paws and tails can be knocked down and shatter into fragments that can pierce your pet’s paws.
  • Pine trees — Prickly pine needles can seriously upset your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, while fertilized or stagnant water can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Tinsel and garland — Your pet may look adorable and festive draped in tinsel and garland, but these sparkly strings pose a choking hazard, whether they become wrapped around your pet’s neck or ingested. Cats are particularly prone to swallowing ribbons and requiring emergency foreign-body removal.
  • Plants — Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not toxic to pets, but they can be irritating if chewed. Toxic holiday plants include mistletoe and holly, which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and heart arrhythmias if ingested.
  • Fireplaces — Pets and people alike delight in the cozy glow of a toasty fire, complete with stockings dangling from the mantel. Curious pets may want to play with tassels hanging from stockings, or investigate burning coals and ash, and get burned, or fall into the fire. Always place the fire screen in front of your fireplace to prevent accidents.

Party perils

Many pets are not party animals, and may experience stress and anxiety when confronted with large groups. Festive gatherings can also be fraught with other pet perils, so monitor your pet closely to avoid problems.

  • Costumes — While your pet may look adorable dressed up as a turkey, elf, or reindeer, she may not appreciate a holiday outfit. If you dress up your pet, avoid buttons, ties, and sashes that can create a choking hazard, and ensure the costume is loose-fitting, and that your pet can see.
  • Strangers — Many pets are wary of strangers, especially those who encroach on their homes. If your pet is not a social butterfly, set up her own party room away from the crowd.
  • Unattended food and drink — In the party commotion, plates of food and glasses of alcohol may be left in easy reach of a hungry or thirsty pet. Ask your guests to refrain from slipping her treats, and periodically check your home for unattended food and drinks.

If your party planning goes awry and your pet wrecks your festive plans by ending up on the naughty list, give us a call. We’re here to help ease the holiday stresses of pancreatitis, foreign body ingestion, and decoration destruction.