The holidays are a magical time of year, but they can be dangerous for your four-legged friend. Our Dietz Family Pet Hospital team doesn’t want a veterinary emergency to spoil your festive celebration, and we offer tips for a pet-safe holiday season.

Tips for a pet-safe holiday feast

Food, glorious food! The holidays would not be as festive without lots of decadent treats, but these indulgences can be dangerous for your furry pal. High-fat foods can trigger pancreatitis, a painful, potentially life-threatening condition in pets, and certain ingredients, such as chocolate, xylitol, raisins and grapes, Allium vegetables (e.g., onions, leeks, garlic), alcohol, and macadamia nuts, are toxic to pets. In addition, ingesting a foreign body, such as a bone or plastic wrap, can lead to a gastrointestinal (GI) obstruction. Follow these tips for a pet-safe holiday feast:

  • Confining your pet — A hungry pet can be crafty and sneak an off-limits morsel. Confine your pet to their crate or another room during meal preparations and the big feast to prevent a food related mishap.
  • Warning your guests — Your pet’s big, pleading eyes may tug on your guests’ heartstrings. Warn them that your furry pal isn’t allowed table scraps. Consider providing a treat canister, so your guests have a way to appease your begging pet.
  • Securing trash — Discarded food items smell wonderful to your pet, and they may resort to dumpster diving to grab a bite. Secure all trash in closed garbage cans and take out full bags as soon as possible.
  • Storing leftovers — Store all leftovers in the refrigerator or behind closed doors to prevent a post-feast pet escapade. 
  • Preparing a pet-safe plate — If you want to include your pet at the holiday feast, prepare a pet-safe holiday plate. Safe options include boneless, skinless white turkey meat, unseasoned green beans, plain cooked sweet potatoes, and plain pumpkin puree. 

Tips for pet-safe holiday decorating

Festive foliage, sparkling lights, and enticing new baubles…of course your pet has to investigate, but their curiosity can put them in harm’s way. Tips for pet-safe decorating include:

  • Securing the Christmas tree — Everyone has seen the videos of the cat taking down the Christmas tree. While these videos are hilarious, a similar incident in your home may be disastrous. Secure the tree in a stable, sturdy tree stand and anchor the top to the ceiling or an adjacent wall.
  • Avoiding tinsel — Some pets, especially the feline variety, are drawn to sparkling tinsel, but if your four-legged friend ingests a shiny strand, it can cause a GI obstruction.
  • Choosing pet-safe ornaments — Fragile ornaments can harm your pet’s mouth or paws if they break, and salt dough ornaments can be toxic if your pet ingests them. Choose pet-safe ornaments or hang them on the high branches that your pet can’t reach.
  • Researching holiday plants — Holiday plants, such as mistletoe, holly, and lilies, are toxic to pets. Some plants, such as poinsettias, can cause GI upset and mouth irritation. Research all plants to ensure they are pet-safe before using them to decorate your home.
  • Forgoing the flame — Flickering candles create a beautiful scene and can make your home smell lovely, but your pet’s curious paw swipe or oblivious tail wag can lead to singed fur and a potential fire hazard. 
  • Covering cords — Twinkling lights are festive, but some pets enjoy chewing electrical cords. Use cord covers to secure electrical cords to prevent a shocking injury or fire hazard.

Tips for a pet-safe holiday gathering

The holidays provide many opportunities to gather with friends and family, but these get-togethers can be stressful for your four-legged friend. Tips for a pet-safe holiday gathering include:

  • Identifying your pet — The havoc surrounding family and friend gatherings can be distracting, and many pets go missing during the holidays. Ensure your pet is microchipped and always wears a collar and identification tags with your current contact information in case they sneak past your defenses. This is the best way to help ensure a happy reunion.
  • Creating a safe zone — Designate a pet-safe zone in a quiet area of your home where your furry pal can escape if they get overwhelmed. If your pet is prone to stress, consider confining them in this area during get-togethers. Provide all the necessary resources, including water, toys, comfy bedding, and a food-stuffed treat, to keep them occupied. In addition, leave music playing to muffle your guests’ noises. 
  • Securing belongings — Many people carry items, such as sugar-free mints and gum, ibuprofen, and other medications, in their coat pockets and purses, and these items can be dangerous for pets. Place your guests’ belongings in a secure area where your pet can’t access them.
  • Seeking veterinary help — Some pets experience extreme anxiety when strangers invade their home. Contact our Dietz Family Pet Hospital team if you think your four-legged friend can benefit from a sedative or anti-anxiety medication this holiday season.

To have your pet microchipped before the holidays become hectic or to ask about anti-anxiety medication, contact our Dietz Family Pet Hospital team.