Holiday Hazards

While the holidays can be a fun and exciting time for us, they can present some serious dangers to our beloved pets. As this festive season draws near, we find ourselves preparing for house guests, planning lavish meals and decorating around the house. It’s important to consider how each of these activities can pose a threat for our furry friends.

First, consider that company can be very stressful for animals and be sure to give them a safe, quiet environment to escape the holiday chaos. Be careful that house guests keep all medications, cigarettes and sugar-free gum out of reach. Also, ensure that potentially toxic plants either do not enter the house or are kept away from curious pets. Various types of lilies can cause kidney failure, poinsettias can cause mild gastrointestinal signs and mistletoe and holly are harmful if ingested as well.

Much of the holiday season is centered around large family meals, chocolates and sweets. Meat and fat can cause gastrointestinal signs as severe as pancreatitis. Bones can cause intestinal blockage or tearing and onions and garlic can cause destruction of red blood cells and result in anemia. While we all enjoy chocolates, baking or dark chocolate can cause severe cardiovascular and gastrointestinal abnormalities. Remember that a dog’s sense of smell is incredible and they would have no problem sniffing out chocolates in a wrapped box under a holiday tree. Caffeine has similar effects if consumed by our pets.

Finally, decorations and holiday trees are present in many homes during this time of the year. Glass ornaments, ribbons and tinsel can harm the gastrointestinal tract or lead even lead to an intestinal obstruction. Holiday tree water may contain chemicals or bacteria that can make pets sick. Batteries to power all the fun toys under the tree contain corrosives that can cause ulcerations in the mouth and bowel. Planning ahead and avoiding any potential dangers to our family pets will keep everyone’s holiday season both safe and fun!

Author: Dr. Erika Sweigard