The holidays are hectic, and shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, baking, and party planning can easily distract you. This time of year your pet faces several temptations, and because all your responsibilities are distracting you, your furry pal has many opportunities to get into holiday mischief. Amid all the festivities you can easily overlook the many hazards your pet faces during the holidays. Our Kauai Veterinary Clinic team alerts you to a few of the many holiday items that can pose a risk to your dog or cat and provides tips for keeping your pet safe. 

Holiday pet hazard #1: Holiday treats

The holidays would be less of a treat if they did not include delicious feasts and tasty desserts. However, many common holiday foods are dangerous for pets, including:

  • Turkey and ham — Turkey skin and ham are high in fat, which can inflame your pet’s pancreas, and potentially lead to a life-threatening illness. Turkey bones can pierce or become lodged in your dog’s or cat’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
  • Nuts — All nuts pose a choking hazard to pets. In addition, macadamia nuts are especially toxic to dogs, so keep the nut dish out of your furry pal’s reach.
  • Xylitol — This natural sweetener and sugar substitute is highly toxic to pets. Xylitol is used in many sugar-free desserts, candies, and cookies.
  • Unbaked yeast dough — If your pet ingests unbaked yeast dough, the fermentation process continues in their digestive tract, and can cause alcohol poisoning. In addition, as the dough expands, your pet can experience dangerous bloating.
  • Alcohol — A pet who ingests alcohol experiences the same side effects as humans. Alcohol can also cause your pet to experience dangerously low blood pressure, body temperature, and blood sugar. 

To prevent your pet from ingesting a toxic ingredient, avoid sharing table scraps with your furry pal, and keep foods intended for people out of their reach. Clean up quickly after your meal, and securely cover your trash bin or immediately take the garbage outside to prevent your pet from dumpster diving for leftovers 

Holiday pet hazard #2: Floral arrangements

Floral arrangements often adorn our tables and other home areas during the holidays, creating a colorful and cheerful atmosphere, however, many plants can poison your pet. To prevent your furry pal from potentially being poisoned, check out the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Poisonous Plant Guide to learn which houseplants and flowers are toxic to cats and dogs. Choose pet-safe plants for decorating, and keep any potentially harmful plants out of your pet’s reach. The following seasonal plants are toxic to pets:

  • Amaryllis — The flowering amaryllis contains lycorine and other toxins that cause pets to salivate excessively, vomit, and have diarrhea, lethargy, and a reduced appetite.
  • Poinsettia — Poinsettia leaves contain a noxious sap that can irritate your pet’s mouth and esophagus. If your pet eats poinsettia leaf, they may experience vomiting.
  • Holly and mistletoe — These plants contain toxic substances that cause vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (i.e., low blood pressure), breathing difficulty, and seizures.
  • Lilies — Lilies are extremely toxic to pets, especially cats, and ingesting only a minute amount of any part of the plant, or the vase water, can cause GI issues, arrhythmia, convulsions, and kidney failure.

Holiday pet hazard #3: Christmas trees

Nothing gets you into the holiday spirit like decorating a Christmas tree, and many pets are drawn to a tree’s inviting fragrance, twinkling lights, and shiny ornaments. Christmas tree mishaps are common during the holiday season, so follow these precautions to protect your curious pet from injury:

  • Stabilize your Christmas tree — In addition to placing your tree in a weighted base, attach it to the ceiling or nearby wall to prevent it from toppling onto your pet.
  • Keep fragile ornaments out of your pet’s reach — Broken glass ornaments have sharp edges that can injure your pet. If your pet can’t resist batting low-hanging ornaments, hang fragile ornaments in the higher branches, out of their reach.
  • Tinsel — Tinsel is a nice addition to your Christmas tree, but the shiny, flowing strands attract many pets’ attention. If your pet ingests tinsel, they could develop a GI linear obstruction that may require surgical removal.
  • Keep electrical cords out of your pet’s reach — Your Christmas tree’s many light strands likely wind their way to the nearest electrical outlet. Many pets chew electrical cords, so ensure you hide the cords under a tree skirt, and use cord and plug protectors to prevent your pet from being burned or shocked. 

Holiday pet hazard #4: Open doors

Many pets go missing during the holidays because they escape while their owners are distracted while welcoming or saying goodbye to their guests. When guests are arriving and leaving, ensure your pet is confined to a bedroom or remains behind a baby gate to prevent them from rushing through the door and potentially becoming lost. Ensure your pet is microchipped and is wearing a collar and identification tags with your current contact information to help increase your chances of a reunion should they go missing. If your pet is not microchipped, schedule an appointment now with our Kauai Veterinary Clinic team to perform this simple and quick procedure. 

Celebrating the holidays with your beloved pet can be a joyful experience. Prioritize your cat’s or dog’s safety by following the tips we’ve shared here. If your pet gets in trouble during the holiday season, contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited Kauai Veterinary Clinic team.