How to Avoid Holiday Pet Health Hazards

Holiday lights sparkle, gifts are being wrapped and secreted away, and candy cane lattes have appeared at every coffee shop. It’s the most wonderful time of the year – unless you are spending it in an emergency room with your fur baby.

Nobody wants to spend the holiday season at the veterinarian’s office. But we know it can be easy in the bustle of the season to forget that some of those holiday decorations, foods, and even plants can present a danger to your dog or cat. So, we gathered some tips to help you make it through the season with your joy intact, and without any pet health scares.

No Fatty Treats

Veterinarians always see an increase in pancreatitis cases this time of year. It’s understandable, since pancreatitis (life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas) usually occurs as a result of pets ingesting rich, high-fat foods, and they tend to be abundant during the holidays!

Luckily, it’s easy to avoid an episode of pancreatitis (and the hospital stay it results in) by not feeding your dog any extra treats or table scraps, especially pork products like ham, sausage, or pepperoni. Keep trash cans securely covered, as well, so no thievery can take place! But if your dog starts showing signs like vomiting, diarrhea, hunched back, painful stomach, loss of appetite, and/or lethargy, call your veterinarian immediately.

Watch for Toxin Ingestion

If you have visiting friends or family staying with you over the holidays, they might not be as well-versed in keeping pets safe as you are. Make sure to inform visitors to keep their medications safely out of reach of pets (and children!), and not to leave any food or artificial sweeteners in reach of pets. Xylitol, a sweetener found in many desserts and baked goods, and even some brands of peanut butter, is toxic even in small doses and can be fatal. Also, many holiday treats include chocolate, which is toxic to dogs and cats.

And when you’re putting new antifreeze in your car as the weather gets colder, make sure none of it drips onto the ground. Antifreeze has a very sweet taste to dogs and cats, making it doubly dangerous, since only a lap or two can lead to serious illness or death.

Careful With Open Flames

Baby, it’s cold outside, and part of a cozy night in during the holiday season often means lighting candles or enjoying a crackling fire. Never leave an open flame unattended, but especially not around pets. Keep in mind that an exuberant dog or playful kitty can easily knock over a candle, causing a fire or burning themselves. Keep all flammable objects, lighters, and matches well away from your pets and extinguish candles when you leave the room. Better yet, consider using flameless candles.

Keep fireplaces covered with protective grates, and store firewood and any fire starters in a closed container or outside.

Prevent Foreign Body Ingestions

Another emergency veterinarians see a lot of during the holidays is accidental ingestion of non-edible items. Crinkly wrapping paper, dangly ribbons, shiny ornaments – many of these things are utterly irresistible to curious cats or playful pups, and too often the fun plaything ends up inside your pet instead of outside. Keep a close eye on your pets when they are around holiday decorations, trees, and gifts, and consider placing ornaments and decorations out of reach.

If an accident does happen, or if you think your pet may be having a medical emergency, give us a call at 914-704-3400. We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and no appointment is ever necessary.

Filed Under: Blog, Pet Health

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