The holidays are a wondrous time of year when families and friends are brought together, people reflect on their life’s blessings, and many are compelled to provide for those in need. However, the season also poses many potential hazards for your pet. Our team at Liberty Veterinary Hospital enlisted the help of a few well-known Christmas characters to offer advice on how to best protect your pet during the holiday season.
Ebenezer Scrooge’s advice: “I’m a crotchety old miser, but the real reason I’m so ill-tempered is because my parents wouldn’t let me have a pet when I was young. Ensure your pet remains happy and healthy by keeping them away from the dinner table this holiday season.”
Liberty Veterinary Hospital (LVH): Any change in your pet’s diet can result in gastrointestinal upset, but certain common holiday dishes can be dangerous for pets.
- Turkey — The main dish poses many risks for your pet. Turkey brine is extremely high in salt, and can result in salt toxicity if your pet ingests the solution. Signs include weakness, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and seizures. Turkey skin is high in fat, and ingesting a high-fat meal can result in pancreatitis, which can lead to potentially life-threatening issues for your pet. Turkey bones are brittle when cooked, and can easily break, injuring your pet’s mouth or esophagus.
- Onions — Vegetables in the Allium family, including onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives, contain N-propyl disulfide, which causes oxidative damage to your pet’s red blood cells, resulting in anemia. Signs include lethargy, weakness, pale gums, and fainting.
- Grapes — Grapes and raisins contain an unidentified toxin that causes kidney failure in pets.
- Alcohol — Pets are highly sensitive to alcohol, and small amounts can cause incoordination, lethargy, vomiting, and potential respiratory failure.
The Ghost of Christmas Past’s advice: “I can see the Christmases of every pet owner’s past, and have witnessed many unfortunate events. Keep your pet away from the dessert table this holiday season, to avoid an ill-fated incident.”
LVH: Many ingredients commonly used for holiday desserts are dangerous for pets.
- Chocolate — This decadent food contains theobromine and caffeine, which stimulate your pet’s nervous system. All chocolate is toxic, but cocoa powder, baker’s chocolate, and semisweet chocolate are the most dangerous forms. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, increased urination, seizures, and potentially death.
- Xylitol — This artificial sweetener is commonly used to make sugar-free desserts, and can cause your pet to experience a dose-dependent insulin release, resulting in a sudden, profound drop in their glucose levels. Signs include weakness, seizures, and collapse.
- Macadamia nuts — All nuts are high in fat and can trigger pancreatitis, but macadamia nuts, which contain an unknown toxin for pets, are especially dangerous. They cause vomiting, weakness, incoordination, and hyperthermia.
The Ghost of Christmas Present’s advice: “I currently witness pet owners as they prepare for the holiday festivities, and I have witnessed some poor choices as they decorate their homes. Protect your pet this holiday season by choosing pet-safe decorations.”
LVH: Decorating your home for the holidays helps put everyone in a festive mood, but several decorative items pose dangers for your pet.
- Christmas tree — Bringing a tree inside your home is sure to incite your pet’s curiosity, and they can easily knock the tree over during their investigation if you don’t securely anchor your tree. In addition, the tree water can contain fertilizers and bacteria that could harm your pet.
- Tinsel — Cats are especially drawn to this fascinating adornment, and if they ingest the substance, they may develop a gastrointestinal obstruction.
- Decorative plants — Several common holiday plants, including mistletoe, holly, and lilies, are toxic to pets.
The Ghost of Christmas Future’s advice: “I bear witness to pet owners’ Christmases to come, and I see many who are spending their future Christmases without their beloved pet, because they failed to properly identify them. Ensure your pet has proper identification to protect them this holiday season.”
LVH: Pets can easily become stressed during the holiday festivities. The crowds and raucous revelry can cause them to spook and run away when you are distracted. Ensuring they are properly identified with a microchip, and they always wear a collar and identification tags with your current contact information, is the best way to have them returned to you if they go missing.
Tiny Tim’s advice: “If my father ever makes enough money to let me adopt a pet, I will take them everywhere! Protect your pet this holiday season by keeping them safe when you travel. God bless us, every one!”
LVH: Take a few precautions to ensure your pet can travel safely.
- Road travel — If you are driving to your destination, ensure your pet is appropriately restrained while the car is moving. Small pets should remain in a carrier, placed away from all air bags, and larger pets should be restrained in an appropriately sized harness. In addition, never leave your pet alone in an unattended vehicle.
- Air travel — If you are flying to your destination, ensure your pet remains safe by keeping them with you in the cabin. The cargo hold is a dangerous place for traveling pets.
Scrooge and his associates have provided some excellent advice to keep your pet safe during this holiday season. If you would like your pet microchipped before the holiday festivities begin, contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-approved team at Liberty Veterinary Hospital and schedule an appointment.