Important Holiday Pet Safety

Written by Jennifer Bledsoe-Nix, DVM

The winter months bring holiday cheer and family celebrations.  We want your holidays to be fun-filled and safe.  The following are tips to keep the holidays happy and healthy for everyone!

Holiday Meals

The holidays are a wonderful time full of family togetherness and fantastic food.   Please remember our foods are often very unhealthy for our pets.  Fatty foods can lead to severe stomach problems including pancreatitis (which can be life-threatening if not treated), vomiting, and diarrhea.  Some foods (grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and chocolate) are toxic to our furry family members.  The best plan is no table food for Fido and Fluffy. If you feel like your holiday meal can’t be complete without sharing it with your furry family, only give small amounts of unseasoned lean meats as treats.

Decorations and Pet Safety

Christmas Trees are beautiful especially when decorated, but animals often like to play with the ornaments and tree.  Place any small or breakable ornaments high and out of reach.  Also avoid tinsel since animals can eat it and cause an intestinal obstruction requiring emergency surgical removal!  If hanging ornaments, avoid the metal ornament hooks.  Animals can seriously injure themselves on these sharp objects.  Consider using twine, yarn, or fabric instead. If you have a real tree, avoid putting any chemical in the tree water.  Pets love to drink the water and these chemicals can be toxic.

Be sure to secure any loose electrical cords and keep them out of reach of pets.  Pets have been known to bite into these cords and electrocute themselves! This is especially true with rabbits and good practice to follow year-round if you’re a bunny parent.

Avoid using loose ribbon or tinsel as gift wrapping decorations. If you use ribbons and tinsel, consider adding them to gifts right before presenting them. Pets are drawn to them and may eat these beautiful adornments which can cause serious intestinal issues.

Supervise any lit candles or simmering oils.  Pets are often attracted to these and can become seriously injured if they get too close.  Strong fragrances can be irritating to our pet’s sensitive noses. Remember to keep pets in a well-ventilated area.  Although fireplace salts produce beautiful colors, the fumes can cause serious respiratory complications.  Avoid them completely if you have pet birds!

Common Holiday Toxins

Low Toxicity – Poinsettia leaves/stems, angel hair, tree preservatives, Superglue, balsam/pine/cedar/fir.

Moderate Toxicity – Fireplace salts, model cement, artificial snow

High Toxicity – Mistletoe, holly, epoxy adhesives, antifreeze, Lilies are highly toxic to cats (can be fatal to cats)

If you believe your pet may have ingested a toxic substance or foreign object:

Thank you for reading! Have a safe and happy holiday season from all of us at the SPCA of Wake County!