Holidays With Pets: Important Safety Tips

It’s that time of year, when there’s plenty of festive spirit to go around, but unfortunately for your pets, the holidays can be dangerous for pets! What you may see as a harmless item of food or decoration could spell major health concern for your beloved pet.

Here are a few things to watch out for this season. Call your local veterinarian or visit an emergency veterinary clinic if you think your pet may have ingested something toxic.

Holidays With Pets: Foods

  • Chocolate: While this cocoa delight is gifted and eaten like crazy this time of year, it’s one that would cause great upset, especially to your pooch. In fact, they can get diarrhea, tremors, or even seizures. Chocolate can even be fatal for some dogs. Keep chocolate well contained.
  • Mince pies and Christmas puddings: These festive desserts both share similar delicious but toxic ingredients – grapes, sultanas and raisins. If your pet does happen to ingest it, try to induce vomiting as soon as possible as they can otherwise suffer from gastrointestinal issues as well as kidney failure.
  • Blue cheese: Although other cheeses are deemed to be fairly safe, blue cheese is an exception. This type of dairy-based delight contains roquefortine C which can cause serious irritation for your dog.

Holidays With Pets: Plants

  • Poinsettias: You may already be aware of the danger poinsettias pose to your pets. This plant has a milky white sap which, if ingested, may cause your pet to have diarrhea, mild vomiting or drooling. If it’s exposed to their skin, they may develop an irritated rash. Even if their symptoms presented aren’t serious, you should still seek your veterinarian for treatment.
  • Holly: Another plant not to be messed with is holly. Your pet is less likely to eat it due to the deterring spikes on the leaves, but if they do, they may start vomiting or having diarrhea.
  • Mistletoe: Despite the meaning behind the mistletoe as the ‘kissing plant’, you should definitely keep your pets out of kissing distance to it. If your pet were to ingest it in small amounts, they will have mild vomiting, diarrhea and pain in the abdominal area. If they consumed in larger amounts, they may collapse and have seizures. In extreme cases, it can be fatal. So be sure to keep this well out of your dog’s or cat’s way.

Holidays With Pets: Decorations

  • Candles: Candles on the mantelpiece present many health risks for your pets. Many are made from toxic ingredients, so be sure to avoid candles with the following ingredients: benzene, paraffin, lead, toluene and artificial colors and scents. Unfortunately, many candle brands don’t display all ingredients, and in these cases, we advise to avoid them. Instead go for candles with ingredients that comprise of beeswax, vegetable wax, or soy wax. The second danger with candles is if your pet accidentally knocks them over and causes damage to themselves or your home. If you have a dog, place them high up on a stable surface which they won’t be able to reach or knock into. If you have a cat, you need to be a bit more clever with where you put them, as cats can sneakily get into most places (whether that’s a small space or a high up one). The only real thing you can do is watch your kitty and the candle, and make sure someone is always in the room to supervise.
  • Electrical cords: Some pets (especially younger ones) may bite or chew on electrical cords used to light up the Christmas tree or the other decorations around the house. There is the extreme risk of electrocution, so be sure to monitor your pet around electrical cords. Reduce loosely hanging wires and attempt to secure them to another surface.
  • Tinsel: It sparkles, and for that reason, can become a target of your pet’s attention. They may start to chase it, chew it, and inadvertently swallow some of it. While it generally isn’t too serious if they consume a small amount – they should be monitored to reduce the chance of the tinsel blocking their airways, balling up in their stomach or getting stuck in their intestinal tract.

While you start to get caught up in the festive season, remember the health of your pet. If you can’t replace any of these hazardous things with a safer alternative, do your best to monitor your pet. If they’re not eating something from out of their bowl, make sure it hasn’t been mentioned on this list!

Check your vet’s operating hours over the holiday period, and be sure to call in the case of an emergency.

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