The holidays are here again! As you prepare for the festivities, don’t forget about your pet. The holiday season’s hustling and bustling can be as overstimulating to dogs and cats as your neighbor’s light display, and as scary as last-minute shopping.

Loving Family Animal Hospital knows you want your pet to be part of your seasonal celebrations, but you want to keep them safe and comfortable, too. Dash into the festive season with peace-of-mind after reading our list—and checking your home twice—for our seven pet holiday hazards.

#1: Have you seen me? Lost pets

Whether they are scared by the seven-foot-tall snowman, or tempted by an open door, pets can easily go missing during the busy holiday season. Check your pet’s collar tags and update them, if necessary. If your pet is microchipped, contact the manufacturer database to confirm its registration, and update your contact information. If they are not microchipped, make an appointment now for this simple procedure at Loving Family Animal Hospital.

#2: They’re not my family! Holiday anxiety in pets

You’re not the only one who gets stressed about hosting family and friends. Pets can be frightened by the sudden household changes, and demonstrate excessive hiding, vocalizing, fearfulness, and house soiling. Give your pet a safe, quiet place, such as a room or crate, where they can escape, and instruct all guests to respect your pet’s space. Use a Feliway or Adaptil pheromone diffuser, to help your pet feel calm and secure. Set up necessary resources (e.g., food, water, litter box) nearby, so they’re never forced to make an appearance if they’re not ready. 

#3: Why did I eat that? Holiday food hazards for pets

This may be the season of giving, but don’t give in to your pet’s begging eyes—popular holiday dishes and desserts contain nearly every toxic or dangerous food for pets, including:

  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol
  • Yeast dough
  • Onions, garlic, and leeks
  • Raisins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Alcohol
  • Turkey bones, fat, skin, and pan drippings — Bones can cause lacerations and intestinal blockages that require emergency surgery. Fatty trimmings and leftovers can trigger dangerous pancreatitis. 

Keep your pet on their regular diet and treats. If you insist on indulging them, give them a small amount of skinless and boneless white turkey, plain sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, or plain pumpkin puree. If your pet does consume a toxin, immediately contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for emergency 24/7/365 guidance. 

#4: Fur on your fir—the Christmas tree and pets

Pets can’t resist this outdoor-turned-indoor majesty, and can easily pull down or push over the tree. Ensure your tree is well-secured in its base, and placed in a corner for added support. Avoid placing ornaments and lights on the lowest branches, to deter pets from stealing or chewing decorations. Use only fresh water in your tree base, and change the water daily—tree fertilizers and preservatives contain harmful chemicals, while stale water can produce illness-inducing bacteria. 

#5: Paws off the decor! Dangerous decorations and pets

When your halls are all decked out, your curious pet is truly walking in wonderland—they want to sample, swallow, swat, or chew everything they see. The following decorations are commonly implicated in pet holiday emergencies:

  • Twinkling lights — Uninsulated electrical cords can electrocute pets when chewed, while batteries can cause oral or esophageal burns. Broken glass bulbs can lacerate the mouth.
  • Glass ornaments — Broken glass can lacerate a pet’s paw pads, face, gums, tongue, and upper gastrointestinal tract, if ingested.
  • Tinsel, garland, and string — Cats may chew and swallow these, causing sickness and intestinal obstruction, and frequently requiring surgical removal.
  • Small pumpkins, corn cobs, and gourds — These can result in intestinal blockages and require surgical removal.
  • Candles — Curious pets may burn themselves, or start a fire with their wagging tail. 
  • Potpourri — Fragrance products can cause burns and respiratory irritation, and are toxic to birds and cats. 
  • Toxic plants — Avoid displaying mistletoe, holly, and lilies, which can cause gastrointestinal distress, or heart and kidney failure in pets. The ASPCA considers poinsettias to be “overrated in toxicity,” but warns that they can still irritate the mouth and stomach, and cause vomiting.

#6: Basic obedience—instruct house guests on proper pet etiquette

Keep your human guests on their best behavior, by informing them of your pet’s presence, and reviewing a few ground rules up front, including:

  • Don’t bother your pet while they are sleeping, eating, or eliminating.
  • Keep medications, gum, and mints in closed containers—not loose on a nightstand, or inside a purse or overnight bag, where pets can reach.
  • Do not feed the pet human food.
  • Do not let the pet outside.
  • Remind children to ask an adult before interacting with the pet, and they must be fully supervised while doing so.

#7: Starting—or startling?—off with a bang! Sound-sensitive pets

If you’re ringing in the New Year with fireworks, noisemakers, or party-poppers, remember your pet’s proximity. Sudden loud noises can send dogs—and occasionally cats—into a tailspin of intense anxiety and panic. If fireworks are occurring nearby, secure your pet in a safe, escape-proof room or crate. Provide a food-stuffed toy (e.g., a Kong) for distraction, and leave a television on to drown out the cacophony.

If you think your pet will be more jumpy than jolly this holiday season, contact Loving Family Animal Hospital about anti-anxiety medications and supplements that can ease their distress. For additional questions about keeping your pet safe, contact our caring team.