A dog and cat wearing santa hats eating their dinners

The holidays ignite our senses like no other time of the year. We are compelled to shop, bake, create, decorate, and give to our heart’s content. Guess who watches all of our antics and indulgences? Family pets, of course. From hanging Christmas lights and dangling ornaments on the tree, to lighting candles and popping cookies in our mouths, they see everything.

None of this would be significant or frightening if there weren’t any associated hazards, but unfortunately there are. Don’t worry: a keen focus on holiday pet safety usually does the trick.

Avoiding a Pet Emergency

Pet owners usually want to avoid a pet emergency no matter the time of year, but it’s critical to avoid subjecting pets to the various risks known to endanger them during the holidays. To that end, we hope the following list helps to clarify what pets should never be exposed to this holiday season.

  • Foods – Pets should never have access to chocolate, Xylitol, macadamia nuts, raisins/grapes, onions, garlic, alcohol, bones, and raw yeast dough. Dark meats, gravy, and rich, buttery foods can cause a painful bout of pancreatitis (a condition that can repeat itself after an initial episode). Keep trash bins closed, prohibit your pet from surfing the countertops and tables, and request that guests never feed scraps to your pet.
  • Greens – Mistletoe, and holly plants can be toxic. Painfully pokey needles fall on the floor, but the contents in the tree stand can also leach dangerously high levels of pesticides, fertilizers, and fire retardants into the water. Clean up fallen needles, keep the tree stand covered to inhibit drinks there, and brace the tree to the ceiling or wall in case you’ve got a climber. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not toxic, but if a pet eats some of this plant it can cause diarrhea and vomiting.  Therefore, please keep them up and away from pets.
  • Breakables – Who doesn’t love glass or ceramic ornaments and decorative items? Be careful when placing these where your pet can knock them over or off the tree. Cuts on paw pads are never good, but swallowed glass shards can do serious damage, too. Ornaments placed within a pet’s reach can be ingested and possibly cause intestinal obstruction.
  • Tantalizing – Be cautious regarding ribbons, string, and the worst offender, tinsel. Cats are drawn in by these tantalizing dangly things, and if they chew on them they can end up causing a major gastrointestinal, life-threatening obstructions.
  • Brights – Items like candles, simmering potpourri, and essential oil diffusers are huge this time of year. Reducing fire hazards is always a great plan, as burnt whiskers and other damage to your home can threaten holiday pet safety. Flameless candles are a good alternative, and holding off on the smelly stuff can wait til next year, right? Potpourri oils and plants can cause serious burns to the eyes and mouth of a pet, so keep them up and away from pets.

Holiday Pet Safety

Other threats to holiday pet safety stem from the swift departure from their routine. Likewise, a house full of strangers can be deeply upsetting.

  • Be sure your pet is socialized and prepared to deal with increased activity.
  • A tired pet is a happy pet, so please exercise them thoroughly.
  • Provide a safe space for them to retreat to if it all gets to be too much.
  • Boarding your pet with us gives you peace of mind during the holidays.
  • Guard the door to prevent your pet from hopping out unexpectedly.
  • Have your pet microchipped or update any changed information to their existing one.

The bottom line regarding holiday pet safety? You can never be too safe.

From all of us at Hampton Veterinary Hospital, happy holidays!