You know the holiday season is here when your to-do list doubles and your free time is non-existent. Between holiday parties, meal planning and preparation, baking, decorating, shopping, and wrapping, there’s little time to think about anything that isn’t holiday related.
When the holiday hustle and bustle is overwhelming, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by our four-legged friends. Pets are good for our physical and mental health—spending time with pets lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and decreases loneliness and depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
We owe it to our pets to keep them healthy and safe, but their safety, in particular, is often overlooked during the busy holiday season, which presents many dangers to pets. That’s why we’ve made a list—and checked it twice—of the top 10 holiday hazards to pets, to help you and your four-legged family members reach the New Year without a trip to the emergency clinic. We’ll present them as the traditional countdown.
#10: (Not so glorious) food
The holidays are full of delicious food, from feasts with family, to cookies and sweets. Pets find it hard to resist a taste, or two, of whatever they can get their paws on, but sneaky snacking can land them at our hospital, or the emergency clinic, because human food is often not safe for pets, including these top offenders:
- Rich or fatty table scraps — Resist your pet’s begging eyes. Your delicious feast can cause gastroenteritis or pancreatitis in pets, and nothing spoils supper faster than cleaning up after a sick pet, or a visit to the veterinary hospital, so ensure all table scraps go into the trash can.
- Chocolate — The caffeine and theobromine in chocolate can cause gastrointestinal problems for dogs, and can be fatal. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous, so ensure your dog cannot access this treat.
- Grapes, raisins, and currants — Always keep these tiny fruits, including in baked goods, out of paws’ reach, because small amounts can cause life-threatening kidney disease.
#9: Buzzing off
Alcohol tends to flow freely around the holidays, but pets are particularly prone to intoxication because of their small size, and should never partake. Signs of alcohol poisoning include stupor, staggering, lack of coordination, and vomiting.
#8: Out on a limb
The joy of the season includes Christmas trees, but to your cat, who is hard-wired to climb trees, it’s a tower of decorated fun. Secure your tree to prevent it from falling, and don’t hang delicate ornaments within reach of your pet’s paws or tail, because if she bats them down, they may shatter and cut paws or human feet.
We know you don’t need mistletoe to get a smooch from your pet, so forget it—mistletoe and holly are moderately toxic to pets if ingested. Other toxic plants include poinsettias, which cause mild oral irritation; Christmas tree needles and water, which can cause vomiting; and lilies, the most dangerous plant, which can cause kidney failure in cats.
#6: All wrapped up
Cats are instantly attracted to ribbons and bows, but they can end up as linear foreign bodies if ingested, and can cause a potentially life-threatening intestinal obstruction.
#5: In for a shock
If your house is full of extension cords for Christmas lights and other seasonal decor, cover the cords with plastic to protect your pets. Many pets, especially youngsters, love to chew on the cords, and may sustain oral burns, or worse, be electrocuted.
#4: Boomers are not OK
New Year’s Eve is not complete without fireworks, but your pets would likely wish they could skip that celebration. For pets with noise phobias, create a safe, quiet place indoors, and, if necessary, ask for help with medication and other options that will help calm your pet.
#3: Party pooper
If you’re hosting a party or having guests stay for the holidays, keep your pets behind closed doors while guests are arriving and leaving, to prevent them from sneaking out for a night on the town.
#2: Lost and found
Because rowdy parties and loud fireworks can send the bravest pooch or puss running for the hills, ensure your pet is wearing a collar with legible identification tags. Better yet, call us, and get your pet microchipped.
#1: Baby, it’s cold outside
Pay attention to the weather forecast, and plan your pet’s day accordingly. Pets in Williamsburg should not be left outdoors without proper shelter during the cold weather.
We’ve made it to the ball drop safely, much to your pet’s delight. Happy New Year! We look forward to seeing you and your pets in 2020.