Holiday traditions often include extravagant meals, festive decorations, and large gatherings, all of which can be stressful or hazardous to your pet. Pets operate on a different physical and emotional level than their people, and your home’s holiday changes transform your environment to a pet hazard minefield. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Waller team understands that dangers often hide in plain sight, so follow our home tour, and learn to identify each room’s most common holiday pet hazards.
#1: Kitchen pet hazards
Meals are often holiday gatherings’ special focus. However, your kitchen is likely overflowing with toxic and dangerous foods that can harm your pet during the holidays, including:
- Chocolate — Contains stimulants that harm your pet’s nervous system
- Xylitol — An artificial sweetener that causes liver failure and a blood-sugar crash
- Raisins and grapes — Cause pets to experience kidney failure
- Onions and garlic — Can damage your pet’s red blood cells and impair oxygen transport
- Macadamia nuts — Cause weakness, overheating, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Yeast-containing dough — Raw yeast dough can ferment in your pet’s stomach and cause extremely dangerous bloating, or alcohol intoxication.
In addition, the kitchen is likely where you keep your trash cans, which can be irresistible to your pet who is hungry for meat and table scraps. Trash may contain indigestible items that cause an intestinal obstruction, or foods that can make your pet sick. Keep your pet out of the kitchen when you are cooking or baking, and remove the trash as soon as you are done.
#2: Dining room pet hazards
Once the meal is ready, you and your guests gather at the dining room table. However, if your pet begs and pleads to partake, do not give in unless you have prepared their own special, bland, low-fat turkey and vegetable meal. Table scraps can upset your pet’s stomach, may contain the toxic ingredients discussed above, or can contain much too fatty food that overwhelms their pancreas’s digestive capabilities. Pancreatitis is painful, causes vomiting and diarrhea, and can land your pet in the emergency hospital for several days or weeks. If you have not prepared them their own bland holiday meal, confine your pet in another room during holiday meals to ensure no one at the kids’ table shares their plate with your four-legged friend.
#3: Family room pet hazards
The family room usually has the most fun decorations. Prevent your pet from experiencing an emergency as a result of tangling with these fun and festive holiday items:
- Christmas trees — Your exuberant pet can tip over the Christmas tree, which may contain breakable glass or toxic salt-dough ornaments. To prevent your pet from knocking over the tree, secure it to an immovable object, such as a wall or the ceiling. If your dog or cat chews light cords, they can receive a potentially deadly electric shock, so unplug the Christmas tree lights when you cannot supervise your pet. In addition, a live tree’s water may contain chemicals or microorganisms that can make your pet sick. Set up a gate to keep your pet away from the tree base, or use deterrents such as tin foil or an upside-down plastic chair mat. In short, do not leave your pet unattended around the Christmas tree.
- Tinsel — If your curious, playful cat swallows tinsel strands, they can experience an intestinal blockage. Skip these shiny strands if you share your home with a feline friend.
- Snow globes — These common holiday decorations may contain ethylene glycol, the same poison in antifreeze. If your pet breaks a snow globe and laps up the fluid, they can experience rapid kidney failure and death. To prevent your pet from inadvertently breaking a snow globe, keep the orb out of your dog’s or cat’s reach.
- Candles — Curious or clumsy pets who knock over lit candles can burn themselves or start a house fire. Supervise your pet around lit candles, and extinguish the flame if you leave the room. Consider decorating with flameless candle alternatives.
#4: Entryway pet hazards
Nervous or intrepid pets may bolt through an open door when guests are entering or leaving. To prevent your pet from running away, block their access to your entryway or confine them to another home area. If your pet manages to slip out, make a reunion with them more likely by ensuring your dog or cat has proper identification (ID). Collars with ID tags can be helpful, but a microchip is your pet’s best permanent ID. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Waller team can microchip your pet during a simple, outpatient visit.
#5: General home pet hazards
While some pets enjoy interacting with unfamiliar people, most feel stress when their home is suddenly crowded. Changes in their routine can also unsettle your pet, so strive to maintain your dog’s or cat’s schedule as close to normal as possible. Feed, walk, wake, and confine your pet during the same times each day during the holidays. During parties, offer your pet a quiet, safe space to retreat from the chaos, especially if your dog or cat cannot safely interact with guests. Keep in mind that your veterinarian can recommend medications, supplements, and other products to alleviate your pet’s anxiety.
Take a quick tour around your home to identify the most common pet holiday hazards, and follow our tips to keep your pet safe. Despite your best efforts, your pet may still get in a holiday jam. If your pet needs medical attention this season, reach out to our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Waller team. If your pet experiences an after-hours emergency, do not wait—call your local veterinary emergency hospital, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, or the Pet Poison Helpline for immediate assistance.