This is officially the most wonderful time of the year, but as you look ahead to days and nights full of food, family, and festivities, take a minute to consider the hidden dangers for your pets during the holiday season. Follow along as we count down five tips that will keep your pets safe into the New Year.

#5: Beware dangerous plants

When decking the halls, keep in mind that some traditionally festive foliage may be dangerous to pets if ingested. Poinsettias are notorious for causing trouble in pets, although the truth is that they usually are only mildly irritating—ingestion may cause some nausea and vomiting, but serious consequences are rare. However, mistletoe, lilies, and holly are moderately to severely toxic to pets who eat the leaves, berries, or flowers, so keep these plants well out of your pets’ reach.

#4: Holiday meals can be hazardous

The same rules that applied to your Thanksgiving feast apply to Christmas and Hanukkah dinners. During the holidays, many people put their diets on hold, and rich foods, such as buttery meat, gravy, and veggies, and onion-laden latkes, are in abundance. All these foods can cause problems for pets, ranging from gastroenteritis to the more serious pancreatitis. Chocolate—especially dark chocolate—is popular at this time of year, but also is toxic to pets.

Your pet’s sad puppy eyes during family holiday feasts can be hard to resist and we don’t want to deprive your pets of good holiday cheer, so follow these two rules when indulging your pet in a treat or two: 

  • Ensure table treats are safe for your pet — Holiday food you give to your pet must be bland; for example, don’t feed him the mashed potatoes gracing the table, but instead  pull some potatoes out of the pot before adding any butter and milk. Your dog won’t mind, and that likely will save her from a bout of gastroenteritis. If your feast includes carnivorous fare, ensure your pet eats only the non-fatty bits of bird or beast. 
  • Never feed your pet from the table — Rewarding your pet’s begging only encourages this behavior. Instead, put table treats in her bowl, ask her to sit, and release her to enjoy her holiday morsels only after she is sitting quietly.

#3: Cocktail hour is not for pets

The holidays are high season for cocktails, but any alcohol is toxic to pets, and because they are usually small, they can easily teeter into alcohol poisoning. Ensure that all alcohol is kept well out of reach of your pets, who may see unattended beverages as their open bar. Intoxication signs will occur 30 to 60 minutes after drinking alcohol, and, as in people, include:

  • Stupor
  • Lack of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Increased water intake and urination

#2: Take care with pets and holiday traditions

Whether you have a Christmas tree or a menorah, be aware they can be dangerous for pets. Cats are notoriously curious, and have knocked over many a Christmas tree as they climb or play with ornaments. Eating tree needles may cause vomiting, tree tinsel ingestion can lead to intestinal obstruction with linear foreign bodies, and broken glass ornaments can cut paws. 

The dangers don’t stop there—Christmas lights and electric menorahs mean extra wires and extension cords, which must be kept out of your pet’s reach. Cats and dogs who chew on live wires can burn their mouths or, in worst-case scenarios,  be electrocuted, so play it safe and invest in plastic wire covers.

#1: Ringing in the New Year puts pets at risk

New Year’s Eve brings its own set of dangers. In addition to the problems with abundant alcohol, noise makers and fireworks frighten many pets, who may bolt when loud noises begin and risk becoming lost or being hit by a car. Keep pets safely indoors during the countdown, preferably in their own comfortable haven behind closed doors. 

Staying pet-aware during your celebrations and being mindful of these cautions will help keep the whole season merry and bright. However, if you have any questions about holiday safety, don’t hesitate to give us a ring!