Holiday safeguards

Holiday Hazards

                The holidays are coming to town and they will be here before you know it.  It is never too soon to start checking your list and checking it twice.  Here are a few holiday hazards to be aware of so that you can better protect your pet.

                So many pet owners feed their four-legged friends table scraps.  This habit becomes even harder to resist around the holidays.  Do not give in to the puppy dog pout when that beautiful, golden turkey finally comes out of the oven.  Feeding your pet turkey or other yummy table scraps can lead to significant gastrointestinal upset, blockage of the intestinal tract that would require surgery, or pancreatitis.

 Pancreatitis and gastroenteritis are the most common diseases in dogs and cats.  Fatty scraps or even a post-holiday trash raid can throw the pancreas into over drive.  This leads to an increase of pancreatic enzymes within the pancreas instead of the intestinal tract.  The pancreas literally begins to digest itself.  This process can lead to permanent pancreatic tissue damage creating a long-term problem.  Signs of pancreatitis can include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness, dehydration, or abdominal pain.  Treatment for pancreatitis is usually observation and supportive care.  Hospitalization may sometimes be recommended depending on the severity of the disease.

  • The holidays are not ideal for introducing a pet into your family. New puppies and dogs require extra attention and a stable environment, which the holiday season doesn’t permit. Also, a puppy is not a toy or gift that can be returned. Instead, the AKC suggests giving a gift representative of the dog to come, such as a toy, a leash, or a bed.
  • Alcohol and chocolate are toxic for dogs, even in small amounts. Keep unhealthy, sweet treats and seasonal goodies out of reach

Here are some other holiday hazards that we may not think of as food but our pets might:

  • poinsettiaPoinsettia– Poinsettias are not necessarily toxic to your pet so do not let this discourage you from displaying these colorful pl
    ants.  If any part of the plant is ingested, it may cause vomiting and irritation around or within the mouth so keep them out of reach.




  • holly-plantsHolly– The leaves, fruits, and seeds of this plant can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea if ingested.





  • kiss-under-mistletoeMistletoe– The entire mistletoe is toxic so make sure this one does not fall from the doorway.  If eaten, you may see vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, labored breathing, shock, and possibly death.




  • cat_in_christmas_lightsElectrical Cords and Lights– Chewing or even lying beside the Christmas lights can lead to electrocution, electrical burns, or contact burns.  All cords close to the floor can be taped down with electrical tape or encase them in conduit.




  • Foreign Bodies– There is so many holiday items that have potential to cause an obstruction in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract.  These items include but are not limited to tinsel, ornaments, pine or artificial needles, angel hair, meat bones, gifts, ribbon, and gift wrappings.

If you pet has ingested any of the preceding items or is showing any signs that may cause concern, please contact your regular veterinarian or local emergency clinic.  For further recommendations, you may contact the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 for a $60 fee.

Now that you are educated on the hazards, you can spend more time enjoying the holidays.  Please have a happy and safe holiday!

Happy holidays to everyone!

Shawn Seibel, DVM