The holidays are here again, making Southeast Texas merry and bright. Because this season is about peace and joy, our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Groves team is here to help your pet remain calm and avoid all the holiday’s hazards. To ensure you enjoy this joyous peaceful season—with no pet emergencies—we gift you four holiday pet safety tips.

#1: Recipe for success—know what foods are toxic to your pet

As families gather for holiday dinners in kitchens and dining rooms—or on couches with TV trays—chances are their pets are right beside them, eager to gobble up every dropped crumb and delicacy. Before your generous holiday spirit gets the better of you, ensure your pet does not gulp down any of these unhealthy, hazardous, or toxic holiday foods:

  • Meat bones
  • Turkey skin and trimmings
  • Gravy
  • Ham
  • Onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks
  • Grapes, raisins, and currants
  • Dairy products
  • Chocolate
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Alcohol 
  • Caffeine
  • Unbaked yeast dough
  • Sugar-free foods and candies containing xylitol

Avoid food-related health issues by maintaining your pet’s regular diet throughout the holiday season. In addition, to prevent your pet from consuming food waste and packaging—and experiencing a gastrointestinal (GI) blockage—carefully dispose of all turkey wrappers and waste (e.g., plastic packaging, foil, twine, carcass, bones). Ensure you and your guests securely close the trash cans, and keep the bins out of your pet’s reach. 

If your guests insist on sharing festive foods with your pet, supply them with some pet-safe treats to sneak to your four-legged friend. In addition, if you know you will be unable to resist your pet’s sad eyes and pleading paw during the holiday meal, prepare and share with your pet unseasoned—including no sauce or gravy—healthy whole-food items such as:

  • Plain, skinless, boneless, white-meat turkey
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Green beans
  • Apple slices
  • Cranberries
  • Plain pumpkin puree, not sweetened and spiced pie filling

If you know or suspect your pet has ingested something toxic or harmful, immediately contact our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Groves team or your nearest veterinary emergency facility.

#2: On a limb—supervise your pet around the Christmas tree

Oh, Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches—unless of course, a kitten is scaling the string lights or a hound dog is hiking their leg! Keep your holiday decor festive and your pet safe by taking these precautions:

  • Erect a barrier — If your pet cannot resist tinkering with tinsel or breaking Christmas tree light bulbs, erect a barrier, such as a pet exercise pen, or place your tree in a room your pet cannot access. 
  • Supervise your pet — Your pet does not care if your Christmas tree is real or artificial—they simply know something new is sharing their living space. No matter how well-behaved your pet, supervise them around all holiday decorations.
  • Display important ornaments on high branches — Place fragile or heirloom ornaments well out of your pet’s reach. 
  • Secure electrical cords — Use cord protectors for electrical cords that cannot be placed out of your pet’s reach, and unplug tree lights when you cannot monitor your pet around the Christmas tree.
  • Keep tree water covered — Prevent your pet from drinking water out of the Christmas tree stand. This water can harbor bacteria and preservatives that can cause your pet a serious illness. To keep the toxins to a minimum, refresh the water daily and—if possible—cover the opening to the Christmas tree stand.

#3: Promote pet-iquette among guests and your pet

Whether you will be hosting guests or bringing along your pet to visit with family or friends this holiday season, practice basic pet-iqutte to ensure a happy, safe, and stress-free gathering. Ensure everyone—guests and hosts—knows your pet will be joining you, and verify all will be comfortable with your furry pal’s presence. Plan exactly how you will entertain and restrain your furry pal as needed. You can provide your pet with a food-stuffed hollow toy (e.g., Kong, West Paw Toppl), treat-dispensing puzzle, or snuffle mat. You should also ensure your pet has a quiet place to rest—in their crate, carrier, or a secluded room. NVC also offers boarding—if your pet is in need of a comfy spot for the holidays, contact our team to check availability.

To ensure your pet cannot bolt out of the house, remind guests to keep all doors and gates closed. Also, ensure your pet wears their current identification tags at all times. For the greatest peace of mind, provide your pet with permanent identification by having our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Groves team microchip your furry pal through this quick and painless procedure.

#4: Holiday glow up—monitor your pet around hazardous decorations

Holiday home decor promotes a holly jolly spirit, but your pet may find these—often glaring and noisy—environmental additions shocking. As creatures of habit, dogs and cats may not know how to react to these sudden—sometimes larger than life—transformations. Always supervise your pet in your home’s winter wonderland to prevent them from becoming injured, especially around these common holiday decor hazards:

  • Candles and fireplaces — Chestnuts should be the only thing roasting on an open fire, but unfortunately curious paws, whiskers, and tails may also be set alight. Consider using flameless candles and a fireplace screen.
  • Garland and tinsel — Cats find glittery string-like decor especially tempting. If you have a cat, forgo the garland and tinsel, which commonly cause furry felines life-threatening intestinal obstructions. 
  • Holiday lights — Pets who crunch light strands can experience painful mouth lacerations. If your pet chews a plugged-in light string, they can receive an electrical shock, which could be deadly.
  • Ornaments — Pets often mistake Christmas tree ornaments for toys. Broken glass pieces can lead to lacerated paws and gums. Soft ornaments are also dangerous. If your pet ingests a small toy-like ornament, they may develop a life-threatening intestinal blockage.
  • Essential oils and potpourris — Many essential oils and liquid potpourris are toxic to cats and dogs. In addition, if the fluids are hot, they can burn your curious pet. Ask your veterinarian to recommend pet-safe home scents.
  • Floral arrangements — Lily, amaryllis, yew, mistletoe, and holly are toxic to pets. Despite popular myth, poinsettias are nontoxic, but if your pet ingests this plant, their mucus membranes (e.g., nasal passages, mouth) and gastrointestinal tract can become irritated.

Our family wishes yours a merry and bright festive season—free of pet mayhem. However, if your feisty, plotting pet turns your safety precautions to coal, our Southeast Texas  Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Groves team is here to salvage the holiday. Contact us to schedule your pet’s quick microchip procedure—and all their health care needs.