Pet Safety Tips for the Holidays

Pet Safety Tips for the Holidays

The holiday season is a magical time for celebration and family, and we all love to include our pets in this experience. But as the air grows icy and indoor festivities ramp up, pet owners should be aware of some potential safety issues. From avoiding dangerous decorating mishaps to ensuring a harm-free diet, follow these important safety tips to ensure a stress-free holiday for your furry family members.

Skip the Glass and Tinsel

Although these classic decorative items are sure to turn up the nostalgia factor in your home, do not sacrifice the safety of your pet in the name of style. Ornaments of the glass variety are fragile and tend to break easily, fragmenting into shards that can puncture the intestines and leave lacerations in the mouth if ingested. Cats adore shiny, light-reflecting objects, and the dance of candle flames against a glimmering strand of tinsel could send your feline companion to the hospital in a hurry. To prevent obstruction of your cat’s digestive tract, avoid hanging tinsel in the home and opt for a pet-safe garland instead.

Pet-Proof the Tree

Authentic fir or spruce needles can cause mild digestive upset in cats and dogs, and pine needles can lead to impaction if consumed in large quantities. Consider purchasing an artificial tree over the fresh-cut variety or put up a pet fence around the tree and other holiday displays. Whether fresh or artificial, always anchor the tree securely to prevent it from falling and injuring your cat or dog.

Keep an Eye on Your Countertops

With guests buzzing about consuming food and drink, fido is sure to be waiting for a tasty morsel to make its way to the floor. Discourage guests from slipping leftovers under the table. Some popular holiday dishes contain ingredients that can make dogs sick, including turkey skin, milk, foods containing alcohol, raisins, and certain nuts. Grapes and raisins have the potential to cause kidney failure, while theobromine poisoning from chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, heart arrhythmias, seizures, and potentially death. Keep food items away from pets and be sure to secure trash bags and garbage cans out of your pet’s reach.

Reconsider Floral Arrangements

Holly and mistletoe are known to cause upset stomach and contribute to cardiovascular issues, while lilies are extremely toxic to cats. In fact, cats can experience kidney failure by simply brushing up against the lily plant. To keep your pet safe and comfortable, opt for synthetic plants. Or consider decorating with poinsettias, which are relatively harmless to animals if ingested.

Keep Pets Out of the Cold

The holiday season often gives rise to frigid temperatures. Be conscious of local weather alerts and remain aware of freeze watches or warnings in your area. If your pet does not normally sleep indoors, make special arrangements to bring them in out of the cold to prevent dangerous hypothermia and frostbite. Make sure your pet has access to fresh water in their sleeping quarters.

Soothe Pet Anxiety

The holidays might be a time of heightened excitement for humans, but our furry friends often find them frazzling and anxiety-inducing. Unfamiliar faces in the home can cause fear and alarm, resulting in stressed behaviors in pets. To combat this, reserve a quiet room in the home just for your pet, so they can decompress and escape the commotion if needed.

By remaining mindful of these pet safety tips, you and your pet can enjoy a holiday season filled with warm memories and cheer – and if your cat or dog has any unexpected illnesses over the holidays, please come to one of our pet urgent care centers near you.


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Angelika Demers, CVT

Clinical Supervisor

Angelika started her animal health career in 2014 when she attended the University of Maine Augusta, Bangor campus, for Veterinary Technology. She graduated in early 2018 and became a Certified Veterinary Technician later that year. Her internship, and first veterinary field job, was at the MSPCA Angell in Boston, where she discovered her interest in emergency medicine. Throughout the years, she has continued to advance her knowledge in the field of emergency medicine, but also in cultivating relationships with patients and clients alike to offer the best quality care. Outside of work she likes hanging out with her cat, Mew, spending time outdoors, watching game shows, and photography.