Delicious treats, glittering decorations, and reunions with beloved family and friends are a few highlights of this most wonderful time of the year. Being busy with coordinating celebrations may mean your pet’s holiday plans slide to the back of your mind, but that can lead to some dangerous circumstances. Plan appropriately this season to avoid any holiday pet pitfalls.


Pet pitfall #1: The food

When we gorge ourselves on all the scrumptious goodies, rich holiday foods can be a pitfall for people as well. Between all the cookie trays, baked goods, and delectable side dishes, food tends to be considered the main course of the holiday season. But, beware: Many seasonal snacks can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or even death in our furry friends. Keep these tempting treats out of paw’s reach this season:

  • Chocolate and sweets — You probably already know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but you may not realize that other sweets can be harmful as well. Watch out for desserts and sugar-free treats that contain the sweetener xylitol, a sugar substitute that can cause vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, and liver failure.
  • Raisins and grapes — Studded throughout Christmas fruitcakes and fruit trays, this snack can be deadly to dogs, potentially causing kidney failure.
  • Turkey and trimmings — Even though it’s nearly impossible to turn down those sad puppy dog eyes begging under the table for a bite of turkey, be strong and resist. Turkey skin, gravy, and other rich or fatty foods can cause pancreatitis, a possibly life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Macadamia nuts — A tasty treat that’s easy to share, macadamia nuts should not be shared with your furry pal. Toxic to dogs, macadamia nuts can cause vomiting, weakness, muscle tremors, and depression.
  • Onions and garlic — Necessary to spice up that tantalizing side dish for your party, onions and garlic are two ingredients that can be deadly to dogs. Keep your pet from sampling these to avoid gastrointestinal upset and red blood cell damage that can lead to anemia.

When in doubt about whether a food is safe for your pet, err on the side of caution and choose only pet-friendly treats formulated specifically for animals.


Pet pitfall #2: The decorations

Decking the halls with twinkling lights, glittering tinsel, and lush seasonal plants amps up the Christmas cheer in any home but can be fraught with danger to a pet. Be careful with allowing your pet free rein of your home if you’ve used any of these items in your decorating scheme:

  • Strands of lights — Beware leaving cords exposed, especially around curious kittens and puppies, who can be tempted to use strings of lights as chew toys. A quick nibble can deliver a serious electrical jolt.
  • Tinsel and garland — Even though a frisky feline may appear adorable frolicking in strands of tinsel and garland, a string can be quickly swallowed. Strings can cause linear foreign bodies, requiring emergency surgery to remove the blockage.
  • Holiday plants — Hollies, lilies, poinsettias, and the Christmas tree itself can all be hazardous to your pet’s health. Not all plants are deadly, but all can cause some form of gastrointestinal upset.
  • Ornaments — Place ornaments strategically, making sure that fragile glass decorations are placed out of paw’s reach. Batted ornaments can shatter and cut paws.


Pet pitfall #3: The parties

While some pets can be considered social butterflies, even the most outgoing of animals may experience stress during crowded, noisy gatherings. Avoid placing your pet in that situation by following these tips:

  • Instruct your guests — Your house, your rules. Even the visiting friend who claims “all animals love him” needs to respect your wishes and leave your pet to her solitude if strangers make her nervous. If your pet enjoys mingling with a crowd, invite your family to spend a little one-on-one time giving her extra attention this holiday season.
  • Barricade the entrance — Before the flurry of greetings occurs, be sure your pet can’t slip out the door. Block access to the door to prevent any accidental sneaking out.
  • Prepare a sanctuary — Holiday gatherings can be exhausting and stressful, especially for pets. Reserve a quiet room where your pet can curl up in a squishy bed with a new, long-lasting treat or toy for entertainment. Be sure to inform guests that your pet’s private space is off-limits.
  • Book a boarding reservation — If you’re traveling for the holidays and your pet is unable to join, be sure to book a boarding reservation or pet sitter well in advance of the holidays. Ensure your furry friend is current on vaccinations required for boarding and that she has the treats, toys, food, medications, and bedding necessary to enjoy her holidays as well.


From our family to yours, we wish you the happiest of holidays, but if a pet-related pitfall occurs, give us a call at 803-831-1318 to continue enjoying your celebration.