Keeping Your Pets Safe During The Holidays

woman pet

The holidays are a noisy and confusing time for pets. Their normal eating and sleeping routines can be disrupted, but more importantly, they can be the victims of the seeming kindness of humans.


Dr. Jim Cook, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) spoke in a recent interview about one way in particular that humans are unknowingly responsible for making their pets sick:

“The biggest single problems I see as a veterinarian during the holidays is pets getting sick from rich table scraps or from eating from the garbage. In my area of the country, people like to serve country ham during the holidays. In other areas of the country, it might be turkey or goose, but in all cases it’s something that can really make a dog sick. Salty, spicy, and greasy… all things you absolutely don’t want your dog getting into. It’s far better to waste some leftovers than feed it to your pet and make them sick.

Rich table scraps, whether given to a pet as a treat or stolen from the garbage, can create a problem called pancreatitis, which is very serious. In many cases, it’s deadly, and it can take a dog days to recover. So this isn’t a small concern. People really need to remember to give their dogs healthy pet snacks over the holidays. It’s really not appropriate and it’s extremely unhealthy to give them food from the table. Dogs do very well on a nutritious pet diet, so don’t supplement with people food. Keep your pets healthy.”

The time between Thanksgiving and New Years is such a potentially dangerous time for your pet that the AVMA has put out the following alert listing some of the most common ways your pet can become hurt or ill:

  • Don’t go off to a holiday party and leave your pet with access to table scraps or anything that might be dangerous. If your dog gets sick while you’re away, you may not return home in time to get the animal the help it needs.
  • Don’t give your dog chocolate, because it’s poisonous. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is for your pet.
  • Never give your pet sweets. Xylitol, a common sweetener in baked goods, candy, and chewing gum, has been shown to cause liver failure and death in dogs.
  • Secure your holiday tree so that your pet can’t pull it down. The bright lights and shiny ornaments are a temptation for pets, and they want to play with them. However, if the Christmas tree topples on them, it can cause severe injuries.
  • Keep pets away from the tree water because tree preservatives and sap that falls into the water can cause gastrointestinal problems.
  • Never leave a pet alone with a lit candle or exposed flame.
  • Never let your pet touch exposed extension cords.
  • Don’t let pets eat holiday plants. Poinsettia, holly, cedar, balsam, pine, and mistletoe are poisonous.
  • Keep ornaments out of your pet’s reach. Cats sometimes eat tinsel and other small decorations, which can block their intestines.

Your pets depend on you to keep them safe year round. However, you need to be especially vigilant about their welfare during the holidays. No one wants to remember the holiday season as the time when the dog or cat died!

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