Holiday Hazards for Pets

Dr. Hillary Segl

Christmas is upon us, and we all want to celebrate. Please keep your furry family members in mind when preparing for holiday celebrations!

Food items that can be toxic for dogs include onions (including green onions, garlic, onion dips, etc), raisins and grapes (cookies, cakes and muffins commonly contain raisins, as do some pies), chocolate, and alcohol. Also avoid high fat items as these can cause severely upset stomachs, and pancreatitis. Giving the dog the leftover bone from the Christmas roast or ham is a bad idea; if swallowed it can cause intestinal blockage. Don’t leave food items on counters to thaw, or to be put away later, as they present temptations for pets.

General hazards include electrical cords- dogs may chew on these, and cats can become entangled in light strings on trees if they climb- or small batteries that can be swallowed. Any string like object used for decorating can be a problem for cats, such as tinsel and garland, or present ribbons, since cats often like to chew on and ingest these. Bowls of potpurri should be kept out of reach of all pets. Any bags with attached handles can present a choking hazard if a pet loops the handles around its neck. If your kitty or pup wants to play inside the bag, clip the handles first so they can’t get stuck.

Any additives to the water for live Christmas trees should be pet friendly, but just in case, cover the base of the tree stand with something. Tinfoil works well and can be easily moved to add water. Pointsettias have been listed as toxic plants for years- really they are not seriously toxic unless the pet ingests a large amount of the leaves. It is best to keep these well away from curious pets. A plant that is MUCH more toxic is the lily- any part of the plant, eaten in tiny amounts, can cause non-reversible kidney failure particularly in cats. If you keep cats, don’t bring lilies into your home.

Last- not usually found inside the home, but be aware- antifreeze for cars is highly toxic. It tastes sweet to animals, so be sure to rinse off any driveway spills right away and keep any containers of the fluid sealed and out of pets’ reach.