The holidays are a time when families come together to create cherished memories, and this special time of year wouldn’t be the same if our four-legged companions were not included. However, the holidays may be full of merriment, but they can also be full of danger for pets, and it’s our responsibility to keep them safe and secure. Our team at  Peak City Veterinary Hospital shares tips you need to ensure your four-legged family members enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season.

Protect your pet from dangerous decorations 

The dazzling decorations can be magical, but your pet sees a sparkly playground and not the hazards. Here’s how to keep your holiday decor—and your pet—safe:

  • Secure your tree — A wobbly tree is an accident waiting to happen. Secure your tree with a sturdy tree stand, ensuring the bolts are tightened well. In addition, anchor your tree to the wall or ceiling to prevent it from toppling over.
  • Avoid tinsel temptation — Tinsel is a dangerous decor choice if you share your home with feline friends. Curious cats see the dangly, sparkly ornaments as toys, but tinsel can become caught in the intestinal tract if ingested, and often requires surgical removal. 
  • Keep lights and cords out of reach — Many pets cannot resist chewing electrical cords, which should be hidden to prevent your pet from being burned or shocked. Consider battery-operated lights for added safety.
  • Beware of breakable ornaments — Hang breakable ornaments on higher branches where your pet cannot knock them off. 
  • Ensure floral arrangements are pet-safe Avoid displaying mistletoe, holly, and lilies, which are enticing to cats especially, but can cause your pet gastrointestinal distress, or heart and kidney failure. Research any decorative plants before you buy to ensure your home is pet-safe.

Keep pets away from festive foods 

With the holidays come an abundance of delicious treats and meals, but not all human food is safe for pets, such as:

  • Fatty foods — Most holiday dishes are high in fat. Large amounts of fatty food consumed at once can cause potentially life-threatening pancreatitis (i.e., inflammation of the pancreas, which aids in food digestion and glucose [i.e., sugar] regulation).
  • Chocolate — Vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, and seizures can occur in pets who consume a toxic chocolate dose. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic to pets.
  • Raisins and grapes — Raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure in some pets, so holiday fruitcakes and fruit salads should be off-limits.
  • Nuts — While all nuts can be choking hazards for pets, macadamia nuts are especially toxic to dogs, so keep these nuts away from your furry pal.
  • Bread dough — Pets who consume yeasty bread dough can develop painful gas, intestinal bloating, and alcohol poisoning from yeast fermentation.
  • Sugar-free treats — Xylitol-containing products can cause precipitous drops in blood glucose, liver failure, and seizures in pets.

Avoid a holiday trip to the emergency veterinary hospital by supervising your pet in the kitchen, and asking guests not to share from their plates. 

Manage your pet’s holiday anxiety 

The holidays can be stressful for pets, especially those with anxiety or noise aversion. Unfamiliar decorations, new faces, and interrupted schedules can trigger or worsen pet anxiety, and lead to emotional distress and behavior problems. If your pet has anxiety, ask your veterinarian about stress reduction strategies, such as dietary supplements, anti-anxiety medications, and calming pet pheromones. When hosting holiday celebrations, ensure your pet has their own safe retreat should the party become too overwhelming.

Avoid a holiday pet disappearance

To keep your pet from bolting away, remind your guests to keep all doors and gates closed, and ensure your pet is always wearing a collar and identification tags that include your current contact information. Microchipping is the best method for permanently identifying your pet and increasing your chances of a reunion should they go missing. 

We hope this guide helps you keep your pet safe and comfortable this holiday season. Remember—we are here for you and your pet should they find themselves in trouble. If your pet requires holiday emergency care, or you would like to schedule their microchipping, contact our Peak City Veterinary Hospital team.