During this magical time of year, your home is transformed into a holiday wonderland. Your perfect Christmas tree takes pride of place in the front window, fresh greenery adorns the mantle, and a decadent feast will soon grace your table. But, some of the holiday’s most enjoyable pleasures can quickly turn dangerous for your mischievous pet. As your furry friend watches you decorate, bake, and prepare for the festivities, they are likely thinking about how they could enjoy your newly transformed home—and it’s not by lying angelically by the fireplace. Put yourself in your pet’s paws to see how your holiday swag could lead to a pet emergency, and follow our tips to keep your furry friend safe.

Christmas tree catastrophes

You’ve probably seen adorable pictures of kittens peering between Christmas tree branches, as they scale the tree like a personal pine-scented climbing tower. But, your cat knocking the tree over, and perhaps being injured in the process, is anything but cute. Follow these tips to prevent your pet from toppling the tree, or getting into other mischief:

  • Tree — Secure your tree in a sturdy stand, and anchor it to the ceiling or windowsill with heavy fishing line or wire. Also, consider surrounding the tree with a pet gate to prevent temptation.
  • Tree stand — Cover the tree stand to prevent your pet from drinking water contaminated with chemicals, fertilizers, bacteria, and mold.
  • Ornaments — Hang breakable ornaments and salt dough creations, which can cause salt toxicity if eaten, on higher branches where your pet cannot knock them off. 
  • Tinsel — Leave off the tinsel, since cats love to eat the shiny strands, which can cause an intestinal blockage. 
  • Cords — Tuck all electrical cords out of sight, where puppies and kittens cannot chew them. 

Holiday feast fiascos

Your pet will be drooling along with your guests as the table is piled with holiday favorites. But, sharing your feast with your pet may give them more than a full belly—it could lead to toxicity or pancreatitis. Many human foods are toxic to pets, including:

  • Onions, garlic, shallots, and chives
  • Raw yeast dough
  • Alcohol 
  • Sugar-free foods containing xylitol
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Chocolate
  • Macadamia nuts

High-fat foods may not be toxic, but they can inflame your pet’s pancreas, leading to vomiting, abdominal pain, and dehydration. If you want your pet to enjoy the holidays by your side, instead of in the hospital, avoid sharing rich foods, such as turkey, ham, buttery mashed potatoes, and gravy. 

Centerpiece shenanigans

Your pet may be drawn to the woodsy scent of your fresh table centerpiece or pine garland. Cats, in particular, love fresh plants, and often eat leaves, flowers, and stems. Unfortunately, many holiday favorites are toxic to pets, and can cause toxicity with signs ranging from mild vomiting to life-threatening kidney failure. Lilies are the most dangerous, as they are extremely toxic to cats, and eating a small amount of any part of the plant, including pollen, can be deadly. Other toxic holiday plants include:

  • Pine
  • Holly
  • Cedar
  • Mistletoe
  • Balsam
  • Amaryllis

Although poinsettias can irritate a pet’s mouth and gastrointestinal tract, they are not truly toxic, and ingestion is unlikely to lead to serious problems. 

Party panic

Your holiday gathering may be dialed back this year, but a celebration with only a few family members can become chaotic and loud, especially if children or eggnog are involved. Being toted around by kids or having a toddler pull their tail can leave the most well-behaved pet on edge, and your normally laid-back pet may bite a guest, or dart through an open door. If your pet isn’t much of a party animal, let them relax in a back room with cozy blankets, a special treat, and soft music to drown out party noise. Also, ensure your pet’s collar and name tag are secure, and their microchip information is up to date, in case they do escape. If your pet does not have a microchip, our Groves Veterinary Clinic team can place one during a quick office visit. 

We hope you have a safe and healthy holiday season with your two-and four-legged family members. But, if your pet goes dumpster diving in the holiday leftovers, nibbles on your centerpiece, or cuts their paw on a broken ornament, we’re here to help with all your little angel’s holiday mishaps—give us a call.