The holidays are a magical time of year, when we decorate our homes, gather with family and friends, and eat delectable food. However, these wonderful holiday traditions can pose potential hazards for your pet. Our team at Groves Veterinary Clinic asked Rudolph and his reindeer friends to help us give pet holiday safety tips before they set out to guide Santa’s sleigh.

Rudolph’s tip: “If you are going over the river and through the woods to visit family and friends, ensure your pet stays safe in the vehicle.”

Groves Veterinary Clinic (GVC): Keep your pet secured while traveling by vehicle. Your pet should remain in their carrier, or they should be restrained using a fitted harness. Take regular breaks to let your pet drink water, stretch their legs, and relieve themselves, and never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle.

Dasher’s tip: “If you are following Santa’s course to visit family and friends, ensure your pet stays safe in the plane.”

GVC: Traveling by plane can be stressful for your pet. Before you fly, let our veterinary professionals examine your pet, to ensure they are healthy and flight ready. During the flight, ensure your pet remains in the cabin, since traveling in the cargo hold can be dangerous for pets. The temperature is not regulated, and items can drastically shift during the flight.

Dancer’s tip: “Properly identify your pet, to keep them safe before Santa Claus comes to town.”

GVC: Whether you are traveling, or celebrating the holiday season at home, your pet can become overwhelmed by the festivities, run away, and become lost. Ensure they are properly identified so they will be returned home should they manage to escape. The best way to provide permanent identification for your pet is to microchip them. They should also wear a collar and identification tags with your current contact information.

Prancer’s tip: “When hosting your Christmas party, keep your pet safe and stress free.”

GVC: Ensure your pet has a quiet place where they can retreat if the party becomes overwhelming. Instruct your guests not to feed your pet people food, and keep all trash in sealed containers.

Vixen’s tip: “Keep your pet away from the turkey and trimmings.”

GVC: The high-fat foods found on the holiday table can cause gastrointestinal upset and possibly trigger pancreatitis, an extremely painful and potentially emergency situation. In addition, cooked turkey bones can easily splinter, and cause a choking hazard or injury to your pet’s mouth or esophagus. Several holiday ingredients, including onions, grapes, and macadamia nuts, are also toxic to pets. 

  • Onions — Onions, leeks, and scallions contain thiosulphates, which can cause anemia in pets. 
  • Grapes — Grapes and raisins contain an unknown toxin that results in kidney failure in pets. 
  • Nuts — All nuts are high in fat, and can trigger pancreatitis, but macadamia nuts are especially toxic to pets, causing muscle weakness, lethargy, vomiting, and hyperthermia.

Comet’s tip: “Keep your pet away from sweet holiday treats.”

GVC: Certain ingredients found in holiday treats, including chocolate and xylitol, are toxic to pets. 

  • Chocolate — Chocolate, especially baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate, stimulates the central nervous system, resulting in restlessness, vomiting, and diarrhea. 
  • Xylitol — This artificial sweetener causes a drop in blood sugar, resulting in weakness, incoordination, and seizures.

Cupid’s tip: “Keep your pet away from the holiday spirits.”

GVC: Your pet will get more than tipsy if they imbibe in the holiday spirits. Intoxication can occur 15 to 30 minutes after alcohol ingestion, with signs including vomiting, lethargy, incoordination, and disorientation. Eating uncooked yeast dough can also result in alcohol poisoning, so when you are proofing your dough, keep your pet from sampling the goods.

Donner’s tip: “Keep your pet safe when trimming your Christmas tree.”

GVC: The Christmas tree poses several dangers to your pet. 

  • Lights — The light strands can entangle your pet if they are investigating under the tree. Some pets, especially cats, are tempted to chew on electrical cords, which could shock them.
  • Pine needles — If ingested, the pine needles can injure your pet’s mouth or esophagus, or cause a gastrointestinal obstruction, requiring surgery to remove. 
  • Tree water — The water used to hydrate the tree can contain dangerous chemicals and bacteria. 
  • Ornaments — Glass and plastic ornaments can easily be broken, and the sharp edges can cut your pet. In addition, salt dough ornaments have a high sodium content, and can cause salt toxicity if ingested.
  • Tinsel — Cats are especially attracted by string-like sparkly tinsel, which can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction if they ingest a piece.

Blitzen’s tip: “Keep your pet safe when you are decking the halls.”

GVC: Holiday decorations can be dangerous for your pet, who will definitely be tempted to investigate the new home additions.

  • Candles — Glimmering candlelight makes the holiday evenings special, but your pet’s investigative nose or paw can knock over the candle, resulting in a fire hazard.
  • Decorative floral arrangements — Several flowers and plants, including poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe, commonly used during the holiday season, are toxic to pets. 

Follow these wise reindeer tips to avoid spending the holidays in the veterinary emergency room. If you would like your pet microchipped before the holiday season, contact our team at Groves Veterinary Clinic to schedule an appointment.