Pet Holiday Safety Tips for Maintaining Peace on Earth

As the holidays draw near, your attention focuses on cheerful celebrations, delicious food, and much-anticipated gifts, and you can easily overlook how your pet is coping with the hustle and bustle. Your pet may be feeling more frazzled than festive as the holidays approach. Check out our Madison Street Animal Hospital team’s pet safety tips to ensure peace on Earth—and maintain the calm throughout the holiday season.

All is calm—create a holiday hideaway for your pet

No amount of holiday spirit can prevent you from needing a break—especially after little Timmy has gobbled six sugar cookies, and is prancing around like a reindeer. No matter how social your pet, they’ll also be looking for an occasional escape.

Monitor your pet during social interactions to prevent them from biting or scratching a holiday houseguest. Your pet is communicating that they’re uncomfortable and they need a break when they show the following stress signs (i.e., nonverbal body language cues):

  • Lip licking
  • Repetitive yawning
  • Tight or tense facial muscles, especially around the mouth
  • Flat or sideways ears
  • Wrinkled forehead
  • Whale eye (i.e., visible eye whites)
  • Shying or backing away
  • Growling or hissing

Avoid subjecting your pet to unnecessary social stress. Always give them the option to retreat to a safe space such as a spare room or a covered crate. Post signs instructing guests to allow your pet to rest unbothered. To prevent their unnecessary emotional distress, an anxious, nervous, or fearful pet should be confined during a large gathering. Offer your pet a long-lasting treat, and play some white noise or quiet music to drown out the holiday din. Periodically check in to ensure your furry pal is comfortable. 

A bad banana with a greasy black peel—keep harmful foods away from pets

When you think about food and pets, you likely first consider the holiday table. And while that’s a likely place for your four-legged friend to earn a hearty handout, your pet is equally likely to find their treasure in the unoccupied kitchen after everyone’s taken their seat at the dining room table.

Unattended countertops lined with leftover ingredients, and trash cans filled with abandoned food wrappers and remnants are prime pickings for hungry pets. Unfortunately, most of what pets find here is dangerous—or deadly. These hazardous leftovers, scraps, and wrappings include:

  • Meat bones — If your pet chews a cooked bone (e.g., turkey, ham), the food scrap can splinter and cause your furry pal painful lacerations. If your pet swallows a bone, they can choke, experience an esophageal or intestinal perforation, or develop a life-threatening digestive system blockage.
  • Turkey skin, trimmings, and grease — High-fat turkey pieces and drippings can trigger dangerous pancreatitis.
  • Corncobs — Corncobs commonly cause pets to choke or develop a digestive system blockage. 
  • Aromatics — Onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots are dangerous to your pet’s health.
  • Grapes and raisins — Often used for garnish and stuffing, these sweet treats contain an unknown toxin that can cause kidney failure.
  • Chocolate — Bitter, dark, baker’s chocolate, and cocoa powder are highly toxic.
  • Nuts — All nuts are high in fat, but macadamia nuts are toxic.
  • Xylitol-containing foods — Xylitol is a sweetener used in sugar-free foods. This ingredient causes dogs to develop hypoglycemia and potential liver failure. 
  • Alcohol — Pets can experience alcohol poisoning.
  • Yeast dough — Unbaked yeast dough ferments in the stomach, and can cause alcohol poisoning and a dangerous digestive system blockage.
  • Food wrappers — Pets may ingest foil and plastic because these items may smell or taste like food.
  • Cooking twine — If a pet ingests the twine used to tie the turkey, this string can become trapped in their intestines, requiring life-saving surgery.

Illness, injury, and toxicosis signs aren’t always immediate, taking hours or days to appear. If you know or suspect your pet has consumed a harmful or toxic food, immediately contact our Madison Street Animal Hospital team or your nearest emergency veterinary facility.

Supervise your pet at all times to prevent food-related accidents. When supervision is impractical, confine your pet to a crate or behind a secure barrier while cooking or before your postmeal kitchen cleanup. Return ingredients to the pantry or refrigerator after use and keep trash—especially bones—in secured containers and out of your pet’s reach.

Oh, ho the mistletoe, hung where you can see—keep holiday decor out of your pet’s reach

Although some pets may simply be a bit naughty, overstimulated, anxious, or stressed pets may express their emotional discomfort through destructive behavior. Exercise caution when decking the halls, and avoid common faux paws such as:

  • Toppling trees — To prevent your pet from pulling down your Christmas tree, secure it to a nearby wall or the ceiling.
  • Shocking twists — Pets who chew holiday lights can get electrocuted. Small pets are especially susceptible to serious or life-threatening injury. Supervise your pet at all times around holiday lights, cover electrical cords with protectors, and unplug lights when you leave the room. 
  • Plant-based problems Wreaths, floral bouquets, and table decor often include toxic plants and flowers such as mistletoe, amaryllis, yew, and holly. Cat owners should identify and remove all lilies—a furry feline who ingests any part of a lily can develop kidney failure. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not poisonous, although if your pet ingests this popular Christmas plant, they can experience oral irritation and gastrointestinal upset.
  • Contaminated water — Tree water can harbor harmful bacteria and chemical preservatives. Pets who drink this water may experience mild to severe vomiting and diarrhea. Keep your tree base covered, and to prevent stagnation and excessive bacterial growth, refresh the water daily. 

Between sleigh rides, caroling, and gatherings, ensure you keep an eye on your pet this holiday season and consider their emotional and physical health. Your furry friend cannot rationalize your festive human traditions and customs, and they may react in an unexpected way. Maintaining your pet’s normal routine and blocking their access to harmful items can help minimize their stress and holiday emergency risk. We are also available to help your furry friend feel less anxious during this busy season. To discuss your pet’s individual needs, contact our Madison Street Animal Hospital team.

By |2022-12-21T22:29:08+00:00December 18th, 2022|News|0 Comments

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