In some ways, having a curious pet or two in your home is not much different from having a small child. You always have to consider their safety and make sure that there aren’t things sitting around that they can easily get into. During the holidays, this problem is amplified with decorations, lots of food, and plants that are potentially (or definitely) toxic. Our animal hospital certainly encourages you to get into the holiday spirit this year and enjoy time with your family and friends, but holiday pet safety should also be a priority.
Holiday Pet Safety Tips
One of the best aspects of the holiday season is the food, and we’re sure that your pet would agree. However, there are various types of foods and beverages that can be harmful to your pet if they ingest them:
Onions, leeks, scallions, shallots, garlic, and chives: Ingesting any of these vegetables in sufficient quantity can cause the breakdown of red blood cells in the body, leading to anemia.
Raisins/grapes and currants: These fruits can cause acute kidney failure if eaten.
Walnuts, macadamia nuts, hickory nuts, pecans, and pistachios: Nuts are high in fat, which can cause stomach upset for your pet. Other symptoms that may occur include depression, vomiting, and weakness.
Any kind of chocolate, including cocoa powder and baker’s chocolate: Chocolate has an ingredient called theobromine, a caffeine-like chemical that may induce symptoms such as tremors, a rapid/irregular heartbeat, and disorders of the central nervous system.
Sugar substitutes like xylitol, which is found in candy, sugar-free gum, and various baked goods (and occasionally in peanut butter): Xylitol is very toxic for animals, causing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or even death.
Anything that contains large quantities of nutmeg: Ingesting nutmeg may cause mild stomach upset, but it would take a very large amount to have a greater effect.
Wine, beer, liquor, and any other type of alcohol: Pets should never be given any type of alcohol, which can damage their liver, kidneys, and nervous system.
Any type of meat bone: Bones can break teeth, cause choking, and inflict internal damage if they are swallowed. They can also block the GI tract.
If you’re having guests over, there’s a chance they may not be aware of these food dangers. Keep everyone informed and be open about discouraging table scrap handouts to your pet. It is okay to put a few pieces of white meat and a carrot or two in your dog’s dish if you like.
The holidays wouldn’t feel the same without decorations, but use caution with these items:
Tinsel and tinsel garland
Strands of lights (especially the electrical cords)
Holly, mistletoe, and Jerusalem cherry (poinsettias are safe but keep them out of your pet’s reach nonetheless)
Christmas trees (keep the tree water well covered to keep your pet from drinking it)
Strings, ribbons, and bows
Having lots of people around can be stressful for your pet. Talk to us about what options we can provide to help your pet relax when your family comes calling. We also recommend having a quiet room out of the way where your pet can retreat whenever they need to. If your pet is crate-trained, keep their crate in a quiet room and be sure to include their food, water, a blanket, and their favorite toy if they have one so they can feel secure.
Dr. J. is the best vet that I know of. The crew is awesome.