Tips for Keeping Your Pet Safe this Holiday Season

December 9, 2020

While houses will be decorated and plans for a holiday meal are in the works this season, let’s not forget that some of these things can be potentially dangerous for our pets. Know what’s hazardous so they, too, can have a safe and relaxing holiday.

People food is not pet food

Dr. Karyn Collier, chief of staff at St. Francis Veterinary Center in South Jersey, said that when it comes to holiday meals, dogs and cats should stick to their own food. It may be tempting to give Fido and Fifi a slice of roasted turkey or a helping of mashed potatoes but their systems are not used to eating such rich, fatty foods, which can cause severe gastrointestinal tract problems coupled with vomiting and diarrhea. They can even develop pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas that, if severe enough, can become life-threatening, especially in dogs.

So instead, give them their chow but if you feel the need to indulge them, then get the dog a brand new bone or biscuit or the cat a new cat nip toy. But leave the people food for people.

Caution in the kitchen

While cooking in the kitchen and frying up foods, Collier said keep the dogs and cats out. They are drawn to the kitchen because of the delicious smells but hot oil can splatter and injure them. They should also be kept away from hot stoves with flames. Opening the oven door and transporting piping hot foods can cause a problem if the animal is under foot.

Pretty but deadly

As far as decorations are concerned, Collier said cats love shiny, round objects, strings and ribbons. If a cat ingests a long piece of ribbon, it can easily get caught under their tongues. Collier said the two ends can go down the esophagus and into the stomach where they bunch up. If it gets tight enough, it can cut through the intestines and become life threatening.

Holiday temptations

Dogs often mistake Christmas tree ornaments for balls and sometimes eat them. Ingested glass can cause cuts on the tongue, the esophagus and the stomach. She said keep ornaments high on the tree, out of their reach.

Toxic to pets

Collier said that poinsettia plants are not as toxic as they’ve been made out to be but they can still cause gastrointestinal upsets so they should be positioned away from a pet’s contact to be safe.

If a pet does ingest something harmful, contact your local vet if it’s during regular office officers. If it’s after-hours, head to the nearest animal emergency room. If it’s a chocolate ingestion, which can be fatal in dogs, that is a situation for the New Jersey Poison Control Center.

When company means misery

There are some pets that are anxious about having too many people in the home. Collier said you can talk to your vet ahead of time to get some medication prior to the holiday event so they’re a little more relaxed. Have them in your bedroom with a new chew bone or toy to occupy their time so they’re not focused on the visitors. Having “Animal Planet” on TV for them is also a great idea, she added.

See ya later, kitty

Some cats like to disappear anyway when someone other than their owner comes over. Just make sure the cat has a safe place to hide out until everyone leaves and the coast is clear to come out again.

The holiday blues

On the flip side, there are pets that are super social and love having people over, so when the holidays are over and it’s quiet again, they may get depressed. Collier said look for signs of loneliness and depression and contact the vet if needed.


Reproduced from New Jersey Radio 101.5