As the year winds down, we celebrate with an abundance of festive foods, decorations, and gatherings. Yet, nothing spoils holiday celebrations more than a late-night trip to an emergency veterinary hospital for your furry friend. With the extra commotion and chaos, little things may be missed in your holiday planning that can lead to illness or injury in your pet. Avoid stressful situations by placing these foods, decorations, and party activities on the naughty list to enjoy happy holidays with your four-legged friend.
Is your favorite part of the holidays sampling the tasty goodies whipped up in the kitchen? We guarantee your pet will be drooling once she gets a whiff of the Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham. You may not want to part with the savory morsels on your plate, but many people can’t resist their begging pet’s sad gaze. When sharing your holiday feast with your furry friend, avoid these foods:
- Turkey and ham — Often seasoned or glazed, turkey and ham are high in fat and sodium, and in sugar content, if glazed. In addition to the fat content, these meats contain bones that can splinter and pierce your pet’s intestinal tract or lodge inside, causing a blockage that requires emergency surgery.
- Desserts — With so many delicious holiday desserts, you probably don’t want to share the pies, cakes, candies, and cookies. In your pet’s case, definitely keep all the goodies to yourself. Desserts sweetened with xylitol, the sugar substitute, are toxic to dogs, and can cause severe hypoglycemia and liver failure. Many dessert items contain dairy products, which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, as most pets are lactose-intolerant. And, don’t forget that you should never feed your pet chocolate.
- High-fat and heavily seasoned foods — Garlic mashed potatoes heaped with gravy or butter, and seasoned stuffing loaded with onions, are two holiday favorites that are dangerous for your pet. Garlic and onions can cause anemia, while butter and gravy can lead to life-threatening pancreatitis.
- Nuts — Not many people know that macadamia nuts can cause weakness, inability to walk, staggering, depression, tremors, and hyperthermia in dogs. Avoid these nuts at all cost for your furry friend, but also watch out for whole nuts, which can pose a choking hazard and are often high in fat.
Decorated Christmas trees are the highlight of the holiday season, but other decorations also help spread holiday cheer. Keep your pet in the holiday spirit by avoiding these decoration pitfalls:
- Christmas trees — Not only do pine and fir trees have irritating oils and needles, the water in the stand is often full of chemicals that can pose a threat to pets. While some pets may chew on the branches, others target the ornaments for destruction, batting at glass ornaments, or nibbling on salt-dough creations or popcorn strings.
- Centerpieces — Harvest displays or other centerpieces may contain vegetables, such as corn cobs, that can cause an intestinal obstruction, and plants that can lead to toxicity. Mistletoe, holly, lilies, and amaryllis are the most common poisonous holiday plants, especially for cats. When creating a beautiful centerpiece, watch your candle placement, because curious pets may sniff or knock over a candle and get burned, or start a fire.
- Tinsel and ribbon — Frisky felines are attracted to all things shiny and glittery, but you must keep them away from tinsel and ribbon. Pets who chew on these strings can suffer from a linear foreign body, which requires emergency surgery.
Parties can be petrifying for pets
Not all pets are party animals. In fact, many would prefer they were left off the invitation list. Parties are fraught with scary situations for pets and owners alike, so prepare in advance for these occasions:
- Overwhelming strangers — Although animal lovers have the best of intentions, pets often feel overwhelmed when surrounded by many reaching hands. If you know that your guest list is extensive, your pet will likely be more comfortable away from the commotion. Create a private area that’s off-limits to guests and filled with your pet’s favorite things, including a soft bed, new toy, and a long-lasting treat.
- Loud noises — In addition to the standard party noises of music and conversation, fireworks ringing in the new year commonly frighten pets. From party favors that pop, to shouts of the New Year’s Eve countdown, your pet may be uneasy around these loud noises. Seclude her in a quiet bedroom and turn on the radio or TV to help drown out louder sounds.
- Escape routes — During the holiday season, your front door will be opening more often as you carry piles of presents and groceries inside, welcome friends and family, or haul the Christmas tree to its place. If your pet is prone to door-dashing, keep a close eye on her or block access to the door, especially if you know guests will be arriving soon. Also, if your pet is not already microchipped, consider getting her this permanent form of identification before the holiday season kicks into high gear.
For every season, holiday or not, we’re here for you and your pet. Call us if your furry friend stumbles into mischief this season and ends up on the naughty list.