Mandi Broadbent, CSR

It’s that time of year again… the holidays. The time when we gather with our friends and family to celebrate the joys of being part of a tribe. And while the holidays are a fun and festive time for many, it often leaves our pets slightly less supervised and more easily overlooked in the bustle of the day. Toxic foods, dangerous decorations, and poisonous plants loom around every corner and can threaten to damper the day if you don’t take precautions early.

Preiser Animal Hospital has some tips and tricks for keeping your holiday celebrations fun, festive, and pet safe.

Overindulging in the family feast can be unhealthy for humans, but for our pets it can be downright deadly. Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest and bones can damage your pet’s digestive tract. Not to mention those holiday sweets are often poisonous to pets!

When preparing for your big day:

Keep The Feast On The Table – not under it. Eating turkey or turkey skin, even in small amounts, can cause a life threatening condition in pets call pancreatitis. Fatty foods are difficult for pets to digest and many foods that are healthy for people, like onions, raisins, and grapes, are actually toxic to your pets.

Don’t Give Spot Sweets. Chocolate and sweet desserts can be harmful for pets, even though many dogs find it tempting and will sniff it out. The artificial sweetener Xylitol – commonly used in gum and some baked goods – also can be deadly if consumed by dogs or cats.

Yeast dough is a big NO-NO. Raw doughs containing yeast can be incredibly harmful if eaten by your pet – causing painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating. Make sure you’re not leaving your unbaked breads unsupervised while your pet is nearby.

Take Out The Trash! It is important to dispose of turkey carcasses and bones in a covered, tightly secured trash bag – ideally outside – away from those curious critters. 

Watch Out for Poisonous Plants. Many holiday favorites, including Amaryllis, Baby’s Breath, Sweet William, ferns, poinsettias, and lilies are toxic to animals. If you think your pet has ingested one, please call your veterinarian immediately. 

Think Quick, Act Quicker. If you believe your pet has been poisoned or eaten something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 888-426-4435. Signs of pet distress include: sudden changes in behavior, lethargy, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. 

Party Precautions:

A gathering of friends and family is always a fun time, but it’s best to plan ahead to keep your pets safe and make the experience less stressful for all involved.

The Darn Doorbell… If you have a nervous pet, or a pet who doesn’t do well around “crowds”, plan accordingly. Place them in a separate room with a favorite toy, blanket, and special treats. This will reduce the emotional stress on your pet and help to protect your party guests from potential injury.

  • Pro Tip: if any of your party goers or guests have compromised immune systems, make sure they are aware that you have pets so they may have the option to take extra precautions themselves.

Watch the Exits! The holidays are not a time to trust that your pet won’t bolt the first chance they get out that open door. Keep an eye on your pet every time a guest enters or leaves your home.

License and Identification Please. The best protection against a lost pet is identification. Make sure your pet’s collar is properly fitting, with a clear and correct tag with your information. If your pet is microchipped, which we at Preiser Animal Hospital highly recommends, make sure that the information on your pet’s chip is current and correct. 

Decorations Can Be Dangerous. Lit candles can result in burns or, even worse, a fire. Pine cones can cause intestinal blockages. Electrical cords are a tripping risk, as well as a burn risk if chewed on. We all love a festive house, but make sure that all your festive decorations are up and away from prying paws.

A well prepared holiday for both your guests and your pets helps to ensure that your big day goes smoothly. Taking a few minutes to visually confirm that your happy home is holiday pet proofed can save you quite the headache – and a trip to the expensive emergency vet.