Your pet enjoys receiving holiday gifts as much as you, but the greatest gift you can give your pet cannot be wrapped—their safety. Sure, your pet’s wellbeing is not the latest shiny must-have toy, and your furry pal will likely have more fun with the box anyway! However, before becoming swept up in the hectic holiday rush, take time to review our Pet Resort at Stone Ridge team’s holiday pet hazards list, and ensure your pet’s safety during this festive season.

Festive food and pets do not mix

Most pets have one thing on their mind during holiday celebrations—food. During the many upcoming gatherings, delicious delicacies, sweet treats, and savory snacks will tempt your pet. You may have an upset stomach after overindulging, but your pet can develop a life-threatening emergency. Many holiday staples contain ingredients that can be toxic to pets: 

  • Chocolate — Cookies, brownies, fudge, and other chocolatey treats are delicious, but chocolate—specifically, dark, semisweet, and baker’s—contain a high amount of theobromine, which is extremely toxic to pets. Pets cannot metabolize theobromine—which has an effect similar to caffeine’s—and can suffer severe illness. In addition, if your pet consumes a large amount of chocolate, they could die. 
  • Sugar-free treats — Some sugar-free treats contain xylitol, which is toxic to many pets. Foods that may contain hidden xylitol include certain peanut butters, gums, and sugar-free candies.
  • Fatty foods — A pet who eats a large amount of fatty food at once can develop pancreatitis. Fatty food inflames your pet’s pancreas, and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, requiring your furry friend to be hospitalized. Not surprisingly, pancreatitis cases increase during holidays, because people often indulge their pets with holiday treats, foods, and scraps. 
  • Grapes and raisins — Although your pet will eat anything, do not pawn off the holiday fruitcake to your furry pal. Remember, grapes and raisins—common fruitcake ingredients—can cause your pet kidney failure. 
  • Alcohol — Holiday parties often include festive cocktails, wine, and beer, and overindulging can cause you temporary illness. However, if your pet laps up a small amount of alcohol, they can experience a life-threatening situation, such as low blood pressure, body temperature, and blood sugar. Keep alcoholic drinks well out of your furry friend’s reach.

Holiday plants can poison pets

Special plants commonly decorate homes and tables during the holidays, and curious pets are likely to investigate the new foliage. However, some plants are toxic to pets, and if your furry pal takes a nibble, they can become dangerously ill. Educate yourself regarding the plants that may cause only mild indigestion and discomfort, and the plants that can cause severe health problems, including death. Before you decorate with greenery, visit the ASPCA’s Poisonous Plants guide, which includes a full searchable list of plants that are toxic and nontoxic to pets. Help your pet stay safe by avoiding these holiday plants: 

  • Poinsettias — The sap of a poinsettia plant’s brightly colored leaves irritates pets’ mouth and esophagus. In addition, your pet can develop nausea, vomiting, and skin irritation after chewing on a poinsettia.  
  • Mistletoe— Mistletoe contains multiple substances that are toxic to pets. If your pet ingests this plant, they can experience severe intestinal upset, a sudden and severe blood pressure drop, breathing problems, and hallucinations. 
  • Holly — If your pet ingests holly, they can develop gastrointestinal upset, and the plant’s sharp leaves can irritate your curious pal’s mouth. 
  • Lilies — All lily species are extremely toxic to cats. In addition, all parts of this plant—including the pollen—are dangerous to our feline friends. Your cat can experience severe kidney damage even if they ingest only a small amount of any part of a lily. 

Decorations can be deadly for pets

If you enjoy transforming your home into a true winter wonderland, remember to also see things from your pet’s perspective. Your pet may not appreciate all the hard work you put in creating holiday magic, but they are more than willing to sample the goods. To prevent your pet from experiencing a holiday health emergency, plan appropriately when displaying these common—and potentially dangerous—decorations:

  • Christmas tree — Christmas trees—natural and artificial—are pet magnets that pose a safety risk. An excited pet can easily knock over the Christmas tree, so ensure your tree is well-secured in the base. To prevent your pet from chewing on dangerous decorations, hang ornaments out of their reach, especially avoiding low Christmas tree branches.  Stale water in a live tree’s base produces bacteria that can make your pet sick if they mistake the tree holder for a giant water bowl. To prevent bacteria growth in the Christmas tree base, change the water daily. 
  • Tinsel and garland — Tinsel’s glittery shine adds sparkle to your tree, and cats find garland and tinsel strands particularly appealing. However, if your cat swallows these glittery decorations, they can become ill, and experience an intestinal obstruction, which often requires surgical removal.
  • Holiday lights — If your pet chews a live electrical cord, they can be electrocuted. To keep your pet safe from electric shock, avoid placing lights on low Christmas tree branches. In addition to an electrocution risk, broken bulbs on a string of holiday lights can cut your pet’s mouth.

We hope you and your family—two- and four-legged—enjoy a safe and happy holiday season. If you plan to board your furry friend  during the festivities, contact our Pet Resort at Stone Ridge team early to book your pet’s spot.