In today’s veterinary blog, we are sharing a few pet safety reminders for the holiday season in an effort to help families avoid a trip to the veterinary emergency hospital.

Squeezing an emergency veterinary visit in between school performances, office parties, and family celebrations—certainly not on anyone’s holiday wish list. We’ve summarized a few holiday-related safety tips to keep the whole family (furry people included) home for the holidays.

Holiday plants and décor. Live Christmas trees require water—but with a decorative bowl in eyesight and lapping range of your pet, he/she may see a new watering hole. Not a good idea, as the tree water becomes stagnant, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. If your pet drinks it, he/she may end up with diarrhea and/or nausea (possibly the least fun way to celebrate the holidays with a house full of company!).

In addition, other seasonal plants can be harmful if ingested. Holly may lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in a pet. Mistletoe can cause these same gastrointestinal issues, as well as cardiovascular problems. Several varieties of lilies can cause numerous internal issues for cats. Some families forgo live décor and use silk to ensure that pets don’t take a nibble when their people are not looking.

The feast. The best mantra: people food is for the humans only. The WestVet Emergency team has treated pets that have helped themselves to an unattended plate, nosed through the trash, and/or opened a food-related present under the tree (with their keen sense of smell, dogs can sniff out the wrapped goodies pretty easily).

Common food pet exposures during the holidays include:

  • chocolate
  • bread dough
  • fruitcake
  • alcohol.

Also, always remind your house guests to keep their medications safely packed away during their visit.

Careful with cocktails. If your pet sips an unattended alcoholic drink he or she could become weak, ill, and may even go into a coma—possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

A house full of house guests. While many of your friends and guests will offer extra attention and affection to your pet, some people or children are wary of pets. It may be best to keep the furry household members away from the noisy festivities. Pets unaccustomed to children may be easily startled or frightened when approached, resulting in a nip, or a bite, a scratch, or a hiss—and tears and contention all around. Keep everyone happy by kenneling your four-legged friends in their own space, complete with fresh water and a place to cuddle. Another issue may arise when guests bring along their personal pets. Animals innately become territorial if feeling threatened from a pet visitor and you could be setting yourself up for a fight and an animal injury.

TinPet Safety Tips from WestVet 24 Hour Animal Emergency and Specialty Centersel, lights, and candles. Curious cats love glittery things. Ingested tinsel is extremely dangerous, often resulting in an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration, and possible surgery. Candles with open flames could burn your pet and/or be tipped over and cause damage to your home. Also, watch the strings of lights. No nibbling or playing with electrical cords!

Giving good gifts. Choose safe pet toys. If your dog likes to tear toys apart, be aware that squeakers and plastic eyes/noses could become lodged in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines. This advice includes cats that shred their toys. When foreign objects are ingested and become stuck internally, it can be fatal for pets. Emergency surgery may be required.

Snow globes. Keep these knickknacks in a safe place. Some snow globes contain ethylene glycol—a highly toxic substance to pets. If broken, the sweet smell may attract your pet to lap it up, leading to a potentially fatal intoxication.

These tips were adapted from the ASCPA’s holiday safety tips. They report that during the holiday season, they receive numerous calls from concerned pet owners. If your pet ingests something, you may contact the Animal Poison Control Center at their toll-free number 1-888-426-4435 with questions.

In addition, WestVet remains open 24/7 to provide emergency and critical care to pets during the holidays if you should need us. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our Treasure Valley friends, we hope it is a joyous and happy time for you and your family!


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