Holiday Safety Tips For Pets

By Sarah’s Pet Sitting

Holiday Safety Tips

Pet Safety During the Holidays

Previously working at a veterinarian hospital I can tell you from experience, hospitals see more pets around the holidays than any other time of the year. With so much going on with the holidays, COVID and just life in general it’s easy to make a mistake when it comes to your pets well being. Since the holidays are fast approaching I wanted to share some holiday safety tips and preventative measures you can take to protect your pets and have a great holiday.

The Christmas Tree

How could something so beautiful and fun be so dangerous you ask? Well, I’ll tell you about a few personal experiences, don’t judge me. 🙂 About 5 or 6 years ago my husband and I had just finished decorating our tree, it was perfect, loaded with beautiful ornaments I’ve had since I was a child. The tree was up for maybe an hour before my two cats (Batman and Jaws) came barreling down the stairs playing chase. In an effort to get away from Jaws, my cat Batman jumped into the tree at full speed sending it first into the wall and then back down the other ways crashing into the ground. Luckily, my two cats weren’t injured. I can’t say the same for the tree and the ornaments. So, Rule #1, anchor your Christmas tree down. Aside from using a heavy base we now anchor it to the wall with a couple strands of fishing line as well. So far, so good!

Next up…Tinsel. Tinsel is beautiful, it looks great and gives the tree a wonderful shimmering look but it can be dangerous. Once again, I’ll tell you how from experience. Let me preface this by saying my cat Jaws will eat literally anything! He actually got the name Jaws by eating a full package of hotdogs off the kitchen counter as a kitten. When Jaws was about a year old, he ate an entire cat toy, you know, one of those squishy little balls cats love to fling around the house. Well, that cat toy got stuck in his intestines and after a $4,000 surgery and a few nights at Piper Memorial Hospital we got that toy (and Jaws) back in one piece.

This leads me to tinsel, wouldn’t you know, Jaws loves to eat tinsel too! One year I noticed Jaws had thrown up a few times, now cats occasionally throwing up isn’t anything new but I recognized something was definitely wrong. Upon inspection I noticed the tiniest shimmer coming from his cute little cat butt. Turns out he ate a lot of tinsel, so much so that if backed him up so badly we had to take another trip to the hospital to flush him out. Luckily this time around, he didn’t require surgery. After a few enemas Jaws was back in business. Rule #2, skip the Tinsel

Holiday Safety Tips

Glass Ornaments and Candles…I think this one comes down to Murphy’s Law, if your pet can break it, they probably will. Aside from your stuff getting broken, be careful that your pets don’t ingest anything that could cause some damage. A broken ornament or glass candle can lacerate your pets mouth, throat or intestines. Rule #3 Keep glass ornaments and breakable decorations out of reach.

Toxic Holiday Plants

Not trying to harp on the Christmas tree here but my cats seem to think pine needles are delicious. I can count on having to clean up vomit around the house for at least a few days after our tree is set up. Luckily Batman and Jaws tend to lose interest in eating the tree after a few days each year.  Pine needles can cause oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. I’ve found the best way to prevent my cats from eating the Christmas tree is distracting them with treats. Whenever I see them going in for a bite I grab some treats and throw them in the other direction.

Lillies, Mistletoe and Poinsettia are few plants that can cause a more severe reaction in pets so I’m just going to bundle them all together. These plants can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and in more severe cases difficulty breathing, hallucinations and possible death if enough is consumed. Be sure to follow this holiday safety tip! Rule #4 Keep holiday plants out of reach.

Holiday Plants

Food Hazards

With the holidays comes an abundance of great food that unfortunately can send your pet to the hospital on Christmas Day. Be extra careful when baking around the holidays especially if you’re going to be using baking chocolate,  dark chocolate or xylitol. If you don’t know what xylitol is I wrote another blog about it here that you can read. Any one of these chocolates or sweeteners can send your pet to the hospital and you’d be surprised how little chocolate it takes to cause poisoning. For example, a 50lb dog would only need to eat around 1 oz of baking chocolate to cause poisoning. You can read more about what to do if you suspect your dog ate chocolate here. Rule #5 Keep your pets away from people food.

Holiday Cookies

Hopefully you found some of these Holiday Safety Tips useful and you and your pets have a wonderful holiday season! If you’re looking for something fun to do with your pets, check out our Recipes for Holiday Dog Treats that you can make at home. Happy Holidays!

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