Holiday Hazards by Sarah Phillips, ACA

The holidays are quickly approaching and North Town Veterinary Hospital wants you to keep your pets safe this season! Below are some tips to keep in mind about holiday hazards for the winter months:

  • Decorate the top two-thirds of your tree. Christmas trees can pose many dangers to pets. Consider leaving the bottom third of your tree decoration-free, or decorate it with ornaments that are less likely to attract your pet’s attention. If ingested, ribbons can cause intestinal obstruction, and sparkly lights can become life threating if your pet decides to chew the cords. Additionally, Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers and bacteria which could cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in your pet.
  • Pamper your pet’s paws. The salt on the sidewalks can irritate and burn your furry friend’s sensitive paws. After walks, use a damp towel to wipe their feet and underside. Consider using “booties” to help protect them.
  • Keep the sweets out of reach. Holiday treats with chocolate are not for pets – chocolate contains theobromine which is poisonous to them! Chocolate toxicity can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and hyperactivity among other things. The less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it could be. As little as ¼ ounce of baking chocolate can be severely threatening.
  • Maintain your pet’s diet. Giving your pet even just one “special” meal during the holidays can be detrimental. For example, poultry bones can splinter and cause blockages. Greasy, spicy, and fatty foods can cause stomach upset. Also, keep alcohol and garbage safely out of reach. If your pet ingests alcohol, they can become very ill and may go into a coma possibly resulting in respiratory failure.
  • Make pet-level areas floral free. Caution must be used when choosing to decorate your home with holiday florals. Mistletoe and holly berries can be potentially toxic to pets. If your dog or cat were to eat mistletoe, they could suffer gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Holly can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and lethargy if ingested. Consider plastics floral arrangements as a safe alternative.
  • Make your pets feel like a king or queen! Ensure your pets always have a warm place to sleep away from drafts and off the floor. A thick bed with a cozy blanket or pillow to snuggle with is great.
  • Protect your pet from the cold. With temperatures below freezing it is important that your pets are not left outside for extended periods of time. Consider slipping your pet into a cozy sweater or coat during walks!
  • Keep your pets safe inside. With guests coming and going through the holidays, take extra care that your pet does not escape outside. Cats can be fearful and choose to run away when there are a large number of guests in your home, while dogs can become overexcited. One solution is to place your pet in a quiet, safe part of the house away from all the craziness to ensure they are safe.
  • Be wary of seasonal dangers. Ethylene glycol – found in antifreeze and brake fluids – tastes sweet, so animals may ingest it; even a small amount can be fatal. Please be alert of antifreeze spills when out on walks. Also during the winter months, cats may seek shelter under your vehicle. Make a point of knocking on the hood or sounding the horn before starting the engine to ensure there are no cats hiding underneath.
  • Think carefully before giving a pet as a present. The holiday season may not be the ideal time to bring a new animal into your home. While planned pet adoptions as gifts are great, it is not recommended to give pets as “surprise” gifts to friends or family members. Remember, the best holiday present for your pet is plenty of love and attention. Include your pets in your holiday activities and give them lots of pats, play time, and appropriate exercise. 

Following these simple guidelines will ensure your pet’s safety this holiday season. In case of emergency, you can always rely on your friends at North Town Veterinary Clinic for around the clock care. Wishing you and your pets a happy holiday!