From preparing big, decadent meals, to decorating your home and welcoming guests, the holidays can be a hectic and stressful time of year. They can also be problematic for your pet, because they pose several dangerous situations. Our team at Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center (DVSC) wants to help you safeguard your pet this holiday season, by offering tips about keeping them safe during the celebrations.
#1: Don’t let your pet partake in the holiday feast
The rich foods typically included in a holiday feast can result in gastrointestinal upset for your pet, and could also potentially trigger pancreatitis, a life-threatening condition. Dangerous or toxic foods for your pet, if ingested, include:
Turkey — Cooked turkey bones are extremely brittle, and can splinter easily when your pet chews on them, causing a choking hazard, or injuring their mouth or esophagus. In addition, if you season your turkey in brine, this solution can cause salt toxicity, if ingested by your pet.
Onions — Many side dishes are flavored using onions, garlic, chives, and leeks, which are toxic to pets. These vegetables cause your pet’s red blood cells to break down, resulting in anemia. Affected pets exhibit signs including weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and pale mucous membranes.
Alcohol — When raising a toast this holiday season, ensure your pet does not imbibe. Pets are particularly sensitive to alcohol, and small amounts can result in alcohol toxicity. Affected pets exhibit signs including lethargy, incoordination, drooling, and vomiting.
Nuts — All nuts are high in fat, which can lead to gastrointestinal upset for pets. Macadamia nuts are especially problematic, causing weakness, incoordination, hyperthermia, and vomiting.
Uncooked yeast dough — Ingesting uncooked yeast dough can cause not only a gastrointestinal blockage when the yeast begins to swell, but also alcohol poisoning, as the fermenting yeast produces alcohol.
Chocolate — All chocolate is toxic to pets, but dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate are the most dangerous. Affected pets exhibit signs including restlessness, vomiting, and diarrhea.
#2: Keep your pet away from holiday decorations
Your curious pet will want to investigate the new additions to their environment, but many holiday decorations are hazardous for your pet.
Poisonous plants — Many decorative plants, including holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias, are toxic to pets. Ensure they are placed out of your pet’s reach.
Tinsel and ribbons — Cats are especially drawn to string-like objects, which, if ingested, can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction, requiring surgery.
Glass ornaments — Pretty glass objects may tempt your pet, but they can easily break while your pet plays with them, causing serious injury.
Electrical cords — Some pets are compelled to chew on electrical cords, so ensure all cords are well hidden.
Holiday lights — Remove lights from the lower tree branches, to prevent your pet from getting entangled.
Christmas tree water — Water used to hydrate your tree can contain fertilizers and harbor bacteria. Cover the tree stand, to prevent your pet from drinking the water.
#3: Keep your pet safe when you are hosting a party
Many pets become stressed during the excitement that surrounds a party. New people and loud noises may make your pet anxious or afraid. Take steps to lessen their emotional strain.
Quiet retreat — Ensure your pet has their own quiet area, in case they want to retreat. If your pet is shy around guests, you may want to sequester them in a separate room during the gathering.
Exits — If your pet will be free to roam, watch the exits closely, to ensure your pet doesn’t sneak out when you are distracted by your guests.
Introductions — If possible, introduce your pet to each guest as they arrive, so your pet is not overwhelmed by everyone at once.
Identification — Ensure your pet is microchipped, and has proper, current identification tags, in case they become lost.
Food — Inform your guests that your pet is not allowed to eat people food.
Trash — Keep all trash in sealed containers, to prevent your pet from eating inappropriate items.
#4: Keep your pet safe when you travel
Whether your pet is traveling with you, or being left behind, take certain precautions to ensure they stay safe.
Staying behind —If you are leaving your pet behind, ensure you have someone reliable to house sit for you, or find a reputable boarding facility. Before boarding your pet, ensure all recommended vaccinations are up to date.
Road travel — Always restrain your pet appropriately in a carrier, or with a secure harness, while traveling in your car. Also, never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle.
Air travel — Fly with your pet only if they can stay with you in the cabin. The cargo hold is a dangerous place for a pet, because the temperature is not controlled, and items can shift drastically.
Packed bag — When traveling with your pet, pack them a bag that includes their food and medications, medical records, a current picture in case they become lost, and first aid supplies.
Don’t let a holiday emergency derail your celebration. By following these tips, you can keep your pet safe this holiday season. However, if your pet encounters a holiday mishap and requires expert surgical care, contact our DVSC team, so we can offer our specialized expertise.