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Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday for You and Your Pets

The holidays are often a busy time with new foods, plants, decorations, and visitors gracing your home. Here are a few tips on things to watch for to keep your furry friends safe and healthy for the holidays:

Foods

  • Chocolate is a popular treat during the holidays, but it is toxic to your pet
  • Other candies and baked goods should be kept out of reach as well. An artificial sweetener called xylitol which is a common ingredient in gum and sweets can cause liver failure and death in dogs.
  • Turkey and other meat juices and gravy can be too rich and difficult for your dog to digest, which can lead to pancreatitis.
  • Other foods that are healthy for people to eat can cause problems in dogs and cats including raisins, onions, and grapes.
  • If you want to share holiday treats with your pets, buy or make treats designed specifically for them rather than offering table scraps.

Decorations

  • Christmas trees are tempting for pets to climb and play with dangling ornaments, which can cause trees to tip or fall over. Consider stabilizing your tree to the ceiling or a wall to prevent tipping. Hanging lemon-scented car air fresheners in your tree may prevent your cat from climbing it.
  • Hang ornaments that can be broken higher up on the tree, and avoid using tinsel or popcorn chains decorations as these can become entangled in the intestines if your pet eats them and can cause an intestinal blockage which could require surgery.
  • Do not leave pets unattended in rooms with lit candles
  • Several holiday plants can be toxic if eaten, including holly, mistletoe, balsam, fir, and cedar. Poinsettias can also cause some stomach upset if ingested. For a full list of toxic plants, see the following links:

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/dogs-plant-list (dogs)
https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/cats-plant-list (cats)

Visitors

  • If your pet gets anxious with new people in the house, consider providing a room where they can be by themselves and get away from all of the activity. Make sure to provide bedding, food and water, and a litterbox in this quiet room as well.
  • Watch your pet closely when visitors are entering or leaving as your pet may take this opportunity to make a break for it and become lost
  • Ensure your pet is microchipped and your contact information registered with the chip is up to date so if they do sneak out, there is a greater chance for them to be reunited with you.

References:
https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/holidays.aspx
https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/7-holiday-safety-tips.aspx

Written By: Dr. Connie Tuck, DVM

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