The holiday season is meant to be celebrated with loved ones, rather than worrying about the mischief your pet may get into. With all the hubbub surrounding the holidays, pets often get into trouble by tangling with dangerous decorations, ingesting toxic foods, or interacting with overbearing guests. Keep your four-legged friend safe, happy, and healthy this holiday season by following our Heritage Veterinary Clinic team’s tips.

#1: Keep your pet out of the kitchen

One of the most troublesome places in your home is your kitchen. A counter-surfing or opportunistic pet can quickly gulp down toxic ingredients as you whip up your holiday feast, so keep your furry pal out of the kitchen to prevent them from experiencing health problems the following foods may cause:

  • Turkey and ham — The seasonings, skin, bones, fat, and salt in the meaty main dishes can harm your pet by causing them to experience pancreatitis, toxicity, and gastrointestinal (GI) obstruction. If you can’t resist your pet’s begging, give them a couple bites of plain, skinless, boneless turkey breast.
  • Onions, garlic, and chives — Herbs and veggies from the Allium family can damage your pet’s red blood cells, causing anemia.
  • Raisins, currants, and grapes — Turkey stuffing is often studded with raisins or currants, and fruit salad is often chock-full of grapes, making these dishes unsafe for your pet to eat. These fruits’ tartaric acid can cause your pet to experience kidney failure.
  • Unbaked yeast dough — If your pet ingests unbaked yeast dough, the yeast will proof in your pet’s warm stomach, releasing alcohol and carbon dioxide, which can lead to alcohol poisoning and stomach bloat.
  • Xylitol — This sweetener is commonly used as a calorie-free sugar in desserts, but the substance can cause severe hypoglycemia and liver failure in pets.
  • Chocolate — Caffeine, theobromine, and high sugar and fat content mix together to form a dangerously decadent treat that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, heart issues, and seizures in pets.

#2: Instruct guests to refrain from feeding your pet table scraps

People love to spoil pets with tidbits from their plates, but instruct your guests that table food is off-limits for your furry pal. Provide healthy alternatives for guests to give your pet such as green beans, sweet potato chunks, baby carrots, apples, berries, or bananas. Ensure all people food you have on hand for your pet is seasoning-free and served appropriately (e.g., cut into bite-size pieces, boneless, skinless) to prevent choking.

#3: Secure the trash to prevent your pet from eating debris

Turkey twine, bones, and drippings, uneaten bites from overloaded plates, and spoiled leftovers often overfill your trash bin during holiday festivities. The aromas wafting from the bin can prove to be too tempting for your pet. However, if your pet eats something out of an unsecured trash bin, they can wind up poisoned or suffering from pancreatitis or a GI obstruction. Take out trash bags early and often, avoiding overflow, and keep the lid securely latched.

#4: Keep your pet away from open flames 

Whether your table centerpiece is dotted with flickering flames, or you’re hunkering down in front of a cozy fireplace, open flames can draw in an inquisitive pet who may get burned or cause a fire. Swap burning candles for battery-operated versions, and install a secure fireplace screen that your furry pal cannot knock over.

#5: Protect your Christmas tree from your pet

Pets naturally want to investigate the Christmas tree and all the shiny baubles adorning it. However, your four-legged friend can pull down the tree, breaking glass ornaments, spilling chemical-laden water, and causing shocking electrical problems. While Christmas tree varieties are generally nontoxic, the sap and needles can still irritate your pet’s skin and GI tract, so sweep up fallen needles and prevent your pet from gnawing on branches. Protect your tree from your pet—and vice versa—by setting up a barricade to keep your furry pal away.

#6: Give your pet a quiet retreat

Holiday celebrations can overwhelm anyone, especially your pet. Give your four-legged friend a quiet place where they can retreat, and remind guests that when your pet is in their special area they want to be alone. Make this haven cozy by including fleece bedding into which your pet can burrow, an engaging treat puzzle for entertainment, and soothing pheromone diffusers to help take the edge off your pet’s anxiety.

#7: Prepare your pet for traveling or boarding

Plan accordingly and as early as possible for your pet’s wellbeing if you plan to travel during the holidays, no matter whether they will be going with you or staying behind. Ensure your pet is ready to travel with you or to enjoy boarding accommodations while you are away from home by doing the following:

  • Updating vaccinations — Protect your pet from infectious diseases by updating essential vaccinations. Keep in mind that if you and your pet will be going out of state or flying, you may need to provide a health certificate and proof that their vaccinations are up-to-date. In addition, reputable pet boarding facilities require that pets’ vaccinations are current. 
  • Packing supplies — Pack your pet’s bags with their necessities including food, treats, toys, a blanket or bed, medications, and a spare collar and leash. If your cat is traveling with you, be sure to include litter and disposable litter boxes.
  • Booking in advance — Whether you’re flying, driving, or putting your pet up in a boarding facility, make arrangements well in advance to ensure your furry pal can travel with you, or has a lodging spot reserved.
  • Doubling up on identification — Verify that your pet’s collar identification (ID) tags have clearly visible, current contact information and are securely attached. If your pet hasn’t been microchipped, schedule this quick procedure to ensure your furry pal has permanent identification that cannot fall off, be removed, or fade away.

Plan ahead to help ensure your pet avoids a holiday emergency. Schedule your pet’s vaccination boosters, request prescription refills, or discuss your pet’s holiday-gathering anxiety with our Heritage Veterinary Clinic team.