How to Keep Your Pets Safe During the Holidays

Ahhhh Christmas, my favourite time of the year. I just love the excitement around this holiday! I love the time spent with family and friends, the delicious food, beautiful Christmas carols and decorations, I could go on and on! If you are lucky enough to be enjoying the holidays with a furry friend, you know that this time of year can be a little bit challenging to keep our pets out of trouble. I have the privilege of owning a cat of my own and every year when I decorate the tree, all I can think about is that temptations commercial from last year with the cats having a free for all with the Christmas decorations. If you don’t know which one I’m talking about, check it out here!

Since the holidays are a busy time, it can be easy to forget all the hidden dangers that our pets can be exposed to. Here are a few tips to help keep our friends safe this holiday season.

Christmas Trees

  • Put trees in a corner, preferably anchored securely, to avoid disaster if your pet decides they want to try to climb it.
  • Avoid using tinsel in any areas where your pet can get at it. It may add a special touch to your tree, but it can potentially cause intestinal blockages if ingested by your pet.
  • Avoid putting lights and ornaments on the lower branches of the tree. There will be less risk of your pet getting burnt from the lights, choking on ornaments and there is also less risk that your beautiful ornaments will be broken!
  • Try not to let your pet drink the tree water! Best to put a barrier over the water if possible! That water can be a breeding ground for bacteria and cause some stomach upset in your pet.
  • Make sure to clean up pine needles regularly as ingesting pine needles can cause damage to your pet’s intestines if ingested.

Holiday Plants

  • Avoid mistletoe, Holly, Lilies, and Poinsettias in areas accessible to your pet.
  • If ingested, Holly can cause some nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Mistletoes can cause these symptoms as well as some cardiovascular effects.
  • Many varieties of lilies can be particularly toxic to cats and cause kidney failure.
  • Ingestion of poinsettias by cats can cause some mild GI signs such as drooling or vomiting.

Holiday foods to avoid

  • Avoid feeding leftovers to your pets, especially any fatty or spicy foods and bones. These can lead to a variety of unwanted conditions such as diarrhea, pancreatitis and intestinal obstruction.
  • Don’t leave any alcoholic beverages unattended. Alcoholic drinks can be dangerous to pets if ingested!
  • No chocolate!! Best to avoid any sweets but especially those that have been sweetened with xylitol.
  • Make sure to keep pets away from the dinner table and keep lids on garbage cans to avoid exposure to a variety of foods.

Holiday Gatherings

  • Give pets their own safe place for when company comes over. A small room with food and water can be a nice retreat for pets that may be shy or overwhelmed by all the people.
  • Politely ask guests to not feed your pets. To help stop your pet from begging for food, give them their own dinner before guests arrive.

These are just a few tips you help make this holiday season safer for your pets. For a complete list of tips to keep your pets safe for the holidays, please click here.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season!!

Written by Dr. Jessica White