AVC Blog

Pet Safety During the Holidays

The holidays are a time for celebration, enjoyment with family, friends, and pets. With the celebrations, many households adorn holiday specific items not normally present year-round.
It is key to remember that some of the normal holiday items that are harmless to us humans are not harmless to our furry friends. Let’s take a closer look at the common issues seen in veterinary clinics during the holiday season.

1. Human Food

Whether it be Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas hams, gelfite fish during Hanukkah or other holiday traditions, we all love to eat our annual holiday foods, whether. Human foods, especially sugary and fatty foods, can cause gastrointestinal upset and sometimes pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Some human foods and bones can lead to the gastrointestinal obstruction that requires surgical removal. Clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea (with or without blood), lack of appetite and lethargy.  Although not all animals will have problems with consuming human foods, it is best to not feed your pets human food to avoid these problems.

2. Chocolate

Chocolate, even though a human food, is another potential for toxicity in animals. Clinical signs range from none to severe. Mild clinical signs include gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite). Moderate clinical signs include gastrointestinal upset and heart involvement (abnormal heart rhythms and anxiety). Severe clinical signs typically include any of the former plus neurologic disease (anxiousness, coma, seizures, and death). The clinical signs seen is determined by the type and the amount of chocolate ingested. It is best to NOT feed any chocolate to any animals to be safe.

3. Flowers

Flowers are a great way to relieve stress, give as a gift and decorate the house. However, some flowers are toxic to our furry friends. Lillies are especially toxic to cats. Lillies, ingested in sufficient quantities, can cause kidney disease or failure. It is best to not have any lillies in the house if you are a cat owner.

4. Fireworks

Fireworks, per se, are not toxic, however, they can contribute to and increase anxiety in pets. What appears fun to us can be frightening to pets. Please be aware of fireworks and how close they are being set off in proximity to pets at home. Sometimes, sedatives are given to help calm down our pets during known times of fireworks use (4th of July, New Year’s Eve, etc). Contact your regular veterinarian to see if your pet could benefit from sedatives during the holiday season.

5. Alcohol and Illicit Drugs

Alcohol use is common during holiday parties and on the weekends. Just like us, alcohol and illicit drugs can be toxic to our pets. Pets typically do not enjoy the feeling of “letting loose” as we do.  Please be sure to avoid all ingestion of alcohol and illicit drugs with your pets.

6. Xylitol

We love to have our cake and eat it too, especially if it is low sugar or sugar-free. Some low sugar or low-calorie sweets, candies, and gum contain sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners. Xylitol is one of these artificial sweeteners. Even though xylitol is safe for us to consume, it is toxic to dogs. Xylitol ingestion can cause low blood sugar, liver damage, and death. If your dog has consumed this product then it is important to contact your regular veterinarian as soon as possible.

7. Ribbons

The holidays are a time for gift receiving and giving.  Ribbons are commonly used when wrapping gifts. Some animals, especially kitty cats, like to ingest ribbons. Ribbons can cause gastrointestinal obstruction that requires surgery.  Please be sure to not allow your pets to chew on ribbons.

The holidays are a great time for celebration with family, friends, and pets. Above are some of the common problems seen in veterinary hospitals that increase during the holiday season. Proper knowledge of these common problems can help minimize illness and financial hardship during the holidays. Let’s keep our furry and non-furry friends safe and have a happy holiday season.