Christmas Holiday Pet Safety

December is here and tis the season! As holiday celebrations ensue, we look forward to gathering with our family and friends to share in the festivities. Amidst all the hustle and bustle of gift wrapping, decorating, party planning, and meal prepping, we cannot forget to consider our 4-legged household members and what precautions we need to take to ensure they enjoy the holidays as much as we do. Nothing can spoil a good holiday gathering like an emergency trip to the veterinary clinic.

Even the best plans can go south on us so do plan ahead. It is a good idea to know your primary care veterinarians office hours during the holidays and also know the number and location of the nearest emergency veterinary clinic. The ASPCA Poison Control helpline is another great number to keep handy. Now let's talk about a few things you can do to keep the holidays cheerful.

Do NOT Feed

We all love to spoil our dog with treats but under no circumstances should dogs be fed any of the following items:

  • chocolate

  • yeast or cookie dough

  • table scraps

  • candy and gum

  • fatty foods

  • baked goods such as cakes and pies

  • onions, garlic, and raisins are just a few ingredients that are toxic

Chocolate should be off limits no matter the amount. It only takes a small amount to be toxic even to larger dogs. Many candies and gum can contain artificial sweeteners such as xylitol which is highly toxic to pets. Feeding fatty foods such as turkey skin and gravies can upset the GI tract and cause a condition called pancreatitis. Yeast dough, if ingested, can cause the stomach to expand with gas results in life threatening bloat. If you question whether or not it is good for them, odds are it is not. Be sure to let all of your house guests know that feeding your dog anything besides dog food is strictly forbidden.

Christmas Decorations

  • Christmas tree: While the Christmas tree is beautiful and puts us in the holiday spirit, it can also be a hazard. Dogs and cats can knock the tree over and become injured. Considered placing something heavy on the base or securing the tree to a wall or door frame.

  • Ornaments: Ornaments can make a fun toy for a dog or cat to bat around on the floor but if ingested, it can cause an obstruction that could require emergency surgery. Breakable ornaments can also be hazardous if they are stepped on or ingested. Try to secure the ornaments to the tree as best you can.

  • Flowers and plants: Mistletoe, balsam, holly, and poinsettias are just a few of the flowers and decorations that are toxic to pets if ingested. While they are pretty and festive, if you have a pet that likes to chew on things, it might not be a good idea to use them as decor.

  • Candles or fires: Never leave your pet unattended around any open flame or fireplace that is lit. Not only could it be a fire hazard to your home but pets can also burn themselves.

  • Tinsel: This one I know all too well. My cat ingested a large amount of it and required emergency surgery to fix a blockage.

I do not want to discourage anyone from decoration their homes for the holidays. In fact, I encourage you to do so. When you are decorating, give some thought about where you place certain items and what kinds of decorations you use. If it could be a potential hazard to your pet, place it out of their reach or refrain from using it.

Holiday Parties

There is a good chance that you will have family and friends over at your house at some point this holiday season. Keep in mind that a houseful of guests may be stressful for your pets. Be sure to have a quiet, secluded area of the house for them to retreat to if the party shenanigans become to much to handle. This can help reduce their stress and anxiety. Let your guests know that area of the house if off limits.

If your pet is comfortable with guests, be sure to watch the doors leading to the exterior of the home. When guests are arriving, it is easy for your pet to slip out the front door without even knowing it especially if they get really excited when guests arrive. Having your pet microchipped is a good way ensure your pet is returned to you if they were to sneak out.

Set the ground rules from the start. Inform your guests that your pet is not to be fed any kind of table scraps or treats. This is non negotiable. Keep food towards the back of the countertops so your pet cannot reach it. Be sure to take out any trash that might contain left over food. Pets can be mischievous and knock the trash over and have themselves a feast.

Traveling With Your Pet

Whether you are traveling from one state to another or traveling to a different country, familiarize yourself with the requirements of your destination. They all have different requirements for pets entering their state or country. Most will require at least a health certificate but often times they will require a pet be up to date certain vaccinations. If you have any questions, make an appointment with your primary care Veterinarian to help with the process.

You have probably packed all of your bags but did you remember to pack for your pet too? It goes without saying that you need to pack their food and their bed. Other important items could include: leash, pet taxi, water, first aid kit, and proof of vaccination. It is recommended that pets ride in the pet taxi for the duration of the trip and never in a seat where an air bag could deploy and hit them.

Happy Holidays

From all of us here at Spetcial, we want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May your holiday season be filled with joy and laughter.


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