Holiday Hazards

With the holidays coming soon, our pets sometimes get less attention than usual.  Lots of guests and extra activities take us away from our normal activities, and without our watchful eyes, our furry friends can sometimes get into trouble.

Holiday decorations can attract pets of all ages.  Pets see new objects around the house as their new toys.  Shiny lights and ornaments can be a magnet to any playful pet.  Streamers, tinsel, and ornaments can be grabbed and seen as opportunities for endless hours of enjoyable play time.  Unfortunately these objects could be ingested and at best cause mild abdominal pain and at worst cause an obstruction.   New electrical wires around the house can be seen as new chew toys and pet chewing through a wire could be severely burned or even electrocuted.


With the extra traffic in your house, make sure that no one steps on your pet.  Fractured bones, especially in small dogs and cats, can happen when pet gets underfoot.  Make your guests aware that your special friend is close by.

There are many opportunities for our pets to eat foods that they typically don’t ingest.  Sometimes they are stealthy hunters and forage for dropped food under tables and sometimes they can be aggressive and look for an opportunity to pounce on a table and have a great meal when no one is looking.  I once treated a dog who grabbed an uncooked turkey when his owner turned her back to answer a telephone.  By the end of the conversation, the owner had to run out and get a new turkey for her soon to be arriving guests. Other than the annoyance of destructive behavior, eating raw meat can be as dangerous for animals as it is for us.  Salmonella and E. coli infections can be transmitted to animals and severe or even deadly infections can occur.

Sometimes our guests think that they are being kind to our pets when they give them some of their own foods.  But they may unwittingly be feeding toxic foods.  Grapes, raisins, onions and chocolate can be deadly.  Many people are surprised to learn that avocado and macadamia nuts can cause very serious problems.   Even some cakes and cookies with the artificial sweetener xylitol can cause blood sugar and liver problems.  It’s important to tell your guests not to “sneak” anything to your pets

New holiday plants are definitely an attraction for pets.   There’s a wide variety of plants that we get as presents.  Most pets might chew on a leaf or two but I rarely see serious problems from eating plants.  Years ago we were warned that the common holiday plant poinsettia was poisonous but it turns out that it really doesn’t do much harm.  One plant that has emerged as a serious toxin is the Easter Lily.  Cats eating Easter Lilies can develop deadly kidney failure.

Finally, I have seen too many pets escape out of a house when guests come in or out and get hit by cars.  We have to be vigilant to prevent our pets from running away when our doors are opened.

Pets are an important part of our lives and the holidays are a fun time to spend with them.   It’s very important that as pet owners we are cautious and alert and watch for any unexpected hazards during our celebrations.