Jack Russell by Christmas treeAs the holidays loom ever closer, do you do any of the following?

  • Batten down the Christmas tree?
  • Live in fear of lighting the menorah candles?
  • Swap out the advent calendar’s chocolates with baby carrots?
  • Keep your pet from begging for the deliciously dangerous holiday spread?
  • Worry how your cat/dog/iguana is going to handle Aunt Betty’s disdain of all animals?

If so, you are likely a normal pet guardian trying to navigate the challenges of the season. You may even wonder if it will ever be possible to enjoy the holidays with your pets in tow..?

The good news is that it is.

Pet Precautions to Keep Your Holiday Festive

When considering the dangers during the holiday season, you may have already experienced some scary situations in the past or some potential emergencies.

Issues related to food toxins, holiday décor, and general commotion can all equal risk or stress in pets.

Holiday food dangers – One of the most common holiday emergency situations results from a pet ingesting a toxic food item or being fed too many rich people foods.

Pet poisonings most often occur when a dog (or cat) eats highly toxic foods, such as:

  • Xylitol, a sugar substitute used in sugar-free candy, gum, and pastries
  • Chocolate – especially dark or baking chocolate
  • Garlic and onions
  • Alcohol
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Caffeine

Pancreatitis and digestive complications are also a problem during the holidays, when pets are given rich foods like cheese, turkey skin, and gravy.

Holiday decorations – While we all love to deck the halls, sometimes our choices in décor can create pet emergency potential.

Sure, it is tough when the Christmas tree topples, but there are also dangers related to toxic plants (holly, mistletoe, Christmas tree water that has been treated with chemicals, lilies) and breakable or ingestible items.

The best approach to any bit of beauty you add to your home this holiday, is to check whether or not it poses a risk for your pet.

Anxiety and stress – Holidays can also be stressful for pets when new people or travel is involved. Some pet parents opt to board during this time, especially when wanting to avoid traveling with a pet or when hosting large gatherings.

If you choose not to board your pet, consider keeping him safe and calm in a quiet, secure area of the home, particularly when everyone is eating or arriving/departing. This will also reduce the likelihood of him ingesting table scraps or getting loose.

Pet Emergencies Over the Holiday

While being a cautious pet guardian can help safeguard your pet, sometimes emergencies arise.

If you suspect your pet has eaten a toxic item, plant, or food, take this seriously and have him examined. Animal Emergency Services (AES) offers 24 hour, 7 days a week emergency care – and we are open on holidays.

Signs of an emergency might include:

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea that does not subside within a few hours
  • Listlessness or distress
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Lethargy
  • Stumbling or disorientation
  • Refusal to drink water or eat

The sooner your pet is seen by a veterinarian, the better his chances of successful recovery.

From all of us at Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services, we hope you are enjoying the start to another season of celebrations and holidays that is both pet safe and pet friendly.