The holidays are almost here, and your pet’s eyes are aglow with potential mischief. If your dog or cat has been watching you deck the halls and don your gay apparel, pay attention—the Grinch isn’t the only one who can steal Christmas.

Don’t spend the most wonderful time of the year in the veterinary emergency room or at Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center—protect your pet from these five common holiday hazards.

#1: Holiday lights and pets

Nothing sets a magical mood quite like twinkling lights. Unfortunately, pets agree. Dogs and cats are equally enchanted by the tiny sparkling and flashing bulbs. But because our pets express admiration with their paws and teeth, the once-warm glow can cast an eerie pall over the holiday with hazards that include:

  • Electrocution — Pets who chew on electrical cords can experience a serious or fatal shock. Electrocution is especially dangerous for small pets, puppies, and kittens. Shock can cause serious burns, decrease blood oxygenation, and damage muscle tissue, including the heart. Supervise your pet around holiday lights and always unplug them from the wall before leaving the room.
  • Choking — Small bulbs can become lodged in a pet’s airway, and cords can become wrapped around a pet’s neck.
  • Entanglement — Dogs and cats can get wrapped up in electrical cords, causing them to trip, fall, or become trapped.
  • Lacerations — Chewed or damaged bulbs can shatter and cut a pet’s paw pads and mouth.

If your pet shows an unnatural interest in lights, keep them away from decorated areas or display lights out of their paw’s or nose’s reach.

#2: Tinsel, ribbon, garland, and cats

You could say that cats have a thing for string—or any linear shaped decoration. Sparkling tinsel is especially eye-catching, with a foil-like gleam that resembles many popular cat toys. As cats wrestle with various string-like decor, they commonly chew and swallow its length. This seemingly innocent act can lead to life-threatening injury. Linear objects frequently become wrapped around a cat’s barbed tongue, stuck between the esophagus and the stomach, or trapped in the intestines—all of which require emergency surgical removal. Intestinal obstructions are especially threatening because the tissue folds around the linear object, causing an accordion-like effect and compromising blood supply.

#3: The Christmas tree and pets

Whether your tree is real or artificial, all your pet sees is a rare indoor opportunity to embrace their wild side. Christmas tree mishaps are one of the most common pet owner complaints during the holiday season. And when those boughs break, pets can literally find themselves in harm’s way.

Keep your pet from rocking around—or inside—the Christmas tree by taking these steps.

  • Stabilize your tree — In addition to a weighted tree base, attach your tree to the ceiling or nearby wall to prevent it from toppling over and landing on your pet.
  • Cover the tree base — Tree water contains harmful bacteria and chemicals that can lead to gastrointestinal distress (e.g., vomiting and diarrhea). Cover your tree base and refresh the water daily.
  • Keep fragile ornaments up high — If your pet tends to knock ornaments off the tree—on purpose or by accident—display precious decorations up high or in a protected cabinet. 

#4: Harmful holiday foods and pets

Food brings everyone together during the holidays, and that includes your pet. But many classic holiday dishes contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs and cats. Ingesting a small amount can lead to serious or life-threatening health consequences, including toxicity, intestinal blockages, choking, pancreatitis, and severe gastrointestinal upset. 

Protect your furry friend by keeping these classic holiday flavors out of reach:

  • Turkey skin, trimmings, grease, and gravy
  • Ham
  • Cooked meat bones
  • Onions and garlic
  • Chocolate 
  • Xylitol (i.e., sugar substitute found in sugar-free sweets)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Yeast dough
  • Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks
  • Corn on the cob

If your pet consumes something harmful or is behaving abnormally, contact the nearest Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center location during normal business hours. For after hours care, contact the nearest veterinary emergency facility or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

#5: Rawhide gifts for pets

Major retailers know that pet gifts are a fantastic impulse buy for the last-minute shopper. That’s why you’ll see row after row of red- and green-colored treats and rawhide chews strategically stationed near the checkout. Sadly, these items are no gift at all. Every year countless pets suffer from rawhide-related injuries—some of which are fatal. 

Rawhide may seem like the classic dog treat, but these chews—a leather industry by-product—are made with harmful chemicals (e.g., salt brines and lyme). Strong chewing dogs can break off and swallow large pieces. The pieces are a significant choking hazard and if successfully swallowed can still lead to life-threatening intestinal blockages. Despite label claims, most rawhide—and many rawhide alternatives—are poorly digested by pets.

With so many holiday hazards, your pet will need a little assistance to stay off the naughty list. Help your furry friend avoid a nightmare before Christmas by supervising their behavior and keeping harmful items out of their reach. If you do need veterinary care, Stone Ridge Animal Medical Center locations in Conroe and Willis are available during normal business hours. Extended and urgent care hours are also available Monday through Friday at our Willis location. For after hours and holiday care, contact the nearest emergency veterinary center.

If your New Year’s resolutions include travel and adventure, give your pet their own luxury vacation at The Pet Resort at Stone Ridge. Call our pet-loving team to reserve your pet’s accommodations or to schedule grooming or day-care services.