The most wonderful—and most hectic—time of the year is here, and you have the additional responsibility of keeping your pet safe amid the holiday festivities. Your pet likely enjoys being included in the celebrations, but hidden holiday hazards abound, and they can seriously harm your dog or cat. Pets are opportunistic creatures and can get themselves into trouble while taking advantage of each situation in which you are distracted. Learn how to prevent your pet from having a holiday mishap by reading our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team’s seven scenarios that can lead to a pet emergency.  

#1: A scrumptious feast and an unattended pet

Delicious food aromas can be hard to resist for anyone, including pets. While you may never share food with your pet, an unattended plate may be too enticing for your dog or cat to resist. Many common holiday foods are dangerous for pets, and you and your guests should keep all food, drink, and table scraps out of your pet’s reach at all times. Holiday foods that are harmful to pets include:

  • Fatty foods — A high-fat meal can trigger pancreatitis, which damages your pet’s pancreas and surrounding tissues. Pancreatitis can result in a widespread, potentially life-threatening, inflammation throughout your pet’s body.
  • Chocolate — Theobromine and caffeine, two methylxanthines in chocolate, are stimulants that are toxic to pets. While your pet will likely be fine if they eat a snack-size white chocolate bar, they could die if they eat a similarly sized baker’s chocolate square. Keep in mind that the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is to your pet.
  • Grapes and raisins — Grapes and raisins are often used in baked goods. They contain a toxin that causes kidney failure in pets.
  • Sugar-free treats — Many sugar-free treats contain xylitol, which can cause severe hypoglycemia and sometimes liver failure in pets.
  • Alcohol — Pets are attracted to alcohol’s sweet aroma, but even if they ingest a small amount, your furry pal can easily experience alcohol toxicity. 

#2: Leftover bones and a begging pet

Tossing a leftover bone to your pet may seem harmless, but meat bones can be deadly. For your pet’s safety, do not offer them any bones. If your pet likes to chew, give them a tasty dental treat that has received the Veterinary Oral Health Council  (VOHC) seal of acceptance, which will also boost their oral health. Do not give your pet a raw or cooked turkey bone, because they present significant dangers: 

  • Cooked bones — Cooked bones become brittle and can easily splinter. If your pet ingests a cooked bone, the sharp fragments can cause choking, pierce their digestive tract, and potentially cause blockages, tears, or other internal injuries that may require surgical intervention.
  • Uncooked bones — Uncooked bones are not prone to splintering, but they can still cause choking or lodge in your pet’s upper jaw. 

#3: Tantalizing tinsel and a curious kitty

Tinsel is a nice addition to your Christmas tree, but many pets, especially cats, are attracted to the shiny, flowing strands. If your pet ingests tinsel, they could develop a gastrointestinal (GI) linear obstruction that may require surgical removal. If you are worried about your pet ingesting tinsel, skip it altogether or place it high on the Christmas tree, out of your pet’s reach. 

#4: A wobbly Christmas tree and a powerful pup

Decorating your Christmas tree is a fun way to celebrate the season. Although a twinkling Christmas tree is a beautiful sight, it conceals many hazards. No matter whether your Christmas tree is fresh or artificial, it poses dangers to pets. To keep your pet safe around the Christmas tree, follow these tips. 

  • Secure the base — Inquisitive pets can easily topple a tree that is not stabilized appropriately. Secure your Christmas tree in a sturdy stand, and stabilize the tree top with an anchor to an adjacent wall or the ceiling. 
  • Hang ornaments high — Ornaments can also injure your pet, especially when they are easily accessible. Fragile ornaments can break, and the sharp edges can injure your pet, so use ornaments that are pet-safe, or hang them out of your pet’s reach. 
  • Cover water in the tree stand — If you have a fresh Christmas tree, remember that the water that hydrates the tree may contain dangerous bacteria or additives, so ensure your pet can’t access the tree water in the stand.

#5: Holiday carolers and a door-dashing pet 

Many pets go missing during the holidays, because they escape while visitors at the door distract their owners. To prevent your pet from dashing out, block their door access or keep them on a leash when opening a door. Ensure your pet is microchipped and is wearing a collar and identification tags that include your current contact information, which helps increase your chances of a reunion should your furry pal go missing.

#6 A holiday gathering and a petrified pet

Holiday gatherings can be problematic for pets. Some pets experience stress and anxiety around new people and may become overwhelmed when their own home is crowded. Help your pet cope with the chaos by providing them with a quiet area to which they can escape if they become overwhelmed. If your furry pal is extremely anxious, ask our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team if an anti-anxiety medication or supplement could help your pet. 

#7: A beautiful floral arrangement and a nibbling pet 

Festive holiday floral arrangements are beautiful, but many seasonal plants are harmful or toxic to pets. To determine if your holiday arrangements are pet-safe, search this poisonous plant list. Keep potentially dangerous plants out of your pet’s reach, or swap out toxic plants for pet-safe alternatives. Keep your pet away from the following poisonous plants:

  • Amaryllis — The flowering amaryllis contains lycorine and other toxins that cause excessive salivation, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy in pets.
  • Poinsettia — Poinsettia leaves contain a noxious sap that can irritate your pet’s mouth and esophagus. If your pet eats a poinsettia leaf, they may vomit.
  • Holly and mistletoe — These plants contain toxic substances that cause pets to experience vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension, breathing difficulty, and seizures.
  • Lily — All lily plants are extremely toxic to pets, especially cats. If your pet ingests only a tiny amount of any part of a lily plant or the vase water, your furry pal can develop GI issues, a heart arrhythmia, convulsions, and kidney failure.

Prevent a pet emergency from ruining your holiday season. Plan ahead and take precautions to ensure you and your pet enjoy a safe and joyful time. Schedule your pet’s annual wellness exam with our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team, and if your pet is not microchipped, we can perform this quick and easy in-office procedure before the holidays get into full swing.