The holiday season is full of excitement and joy for most people, from the hustle and bustle of shopping to the fun of parties and presents. However, this most wonderful time of the year can be decidedly less than wonderful for you pets, if you are not aware of some of the festive trappings that can become, well, traps, for your pet’s wellbeing.
We’ve already talked about Pet Proofing you Holiday Décor to keep your pet safe, where we covered the Christmas tree, decorations, candles, Christmas lights, and other traditional holiday plants that can pose dangers for your pets. below are some other traditional food, drinks, and elements of the holiday season that you might not think could be harmful to you pet, but they can be. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
The holidays bring a wide array of special and indulgent food and drinks, most of which can be problematic for your pets. Some of the worst offenders are:
Chocolate is highly toxic to pets. This is fairly well known to pet owners. However, with all the sweet treats lying around and chocolates given as gifts, it can be easy to lose track of where that box of truffles from Great Aunt Edna ended up. The last place you want to find it is ripped open and demolished in your pet’s favorite hiding place. Be sure to keep all chocolate safely out of reach of pets. Consuming chocolate can cause agitation, vomiting, diarrhea, elevated heart rate, tremors, seizures, and even death.
Even if you pet seems to enjoy licking out that empty beer bottle or the taste of granny’s holiday punch, pets should never be allowed or encouraged to ingest alcohol. This includes treats like rum balls or cakes as well. Alcohol depresses the nervous system and can cause a range of signs in pets such as vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, wobbly gait, depression, lethargy, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma, and seizures.
Grapes and raisins
Grapes and raisins are toxic to pets, and are often present at Christmas time, whether on fresh fruit platters, cheese boards, or in baked goods like fruitcakes. Pets should never be allowed to consume these toxic fruits.
Pets should never be given cooked turkey bones, no matter how big and sad the eyes staring up at you are. Bones can splinter, get caught, and do damage to your pet’s mouth, esophagus, and gastrointestinal tract.
All manner of holiday foods, especially rich, fatty, and spicy foods can cause issues for your pets if they are snuck table scraps. This is especially true when large groups of people are celebrating together and there is no way to tell how much food a pet has consumed. Consuming table scraps and treats can cause vomiting and diarrhea in your pet, and potentially pancreatitis – a potentially dangerous inflammation of the pancreas that produces toxic enzymes and caused illness and dehydration.
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that can be found in sugar-free candies and gum, baked goods and peanut butter, among other things. Ingesting it can lead to liver damage or failure in animals. Make sure to keep these types of items out of pet’s reach.
The holidays often means lots of extra people around, whether holiday houseguests or partygoers. Having extra people around that may not be aware of what is hazardous to pets can also impact your pets in ways other than foods:
Unsuspecting houseguests may leave belongings, which can include medications, in open suitcases or within easy reach of curious pets. Ask any guests to make sure medications and anything else that might tempt your pet are safely out of reach.
Loud parties and lots of people
If you’re planning on hosting a holiday party, you may want to create a safe space for your pet to retreat to if they become overwhelmed or overstimulated. While some pets like lots of new friends to scratch their ears, some find the noise and crowd too much to handle. Designate a bedroom or other quiet area that can be completely closed off as your pets ‘quiet’ zone. Put their bedding, some toys, water dish, and even food bowl in there, with anything else you know would make your pet comfortable or feel calm and secure. When the party seems to be too much for your pet, or even before it starts, put your pet in there so they can relax and be out of the way.
Whether it’s houseguests that don’t know your pets normal routines and rules, or a wily pet making a quick exit while you’re busy greeting guests and taking coats, the holidays can be a great time for your pet to make a bid for freedom, and not have you notice they’re gone until potentially hours later. Make sure any house guests are aware of your pet’s routines and rules for going outside, and if you pet is prone to escape tactics, put them safely in a closed-off room like a bedroom during gatherings, so they don’t make a break for it. No one wants to spend Christmas searching the streets or visiting the local shelters to track down their beloved pet.
The holiday stress that can be brought on by a change in routines, decorating, cooking, cleaning, shopping, hosting, and so on of the holiday season can affect your pet as well as people. Try to keep things as consistent as possible for your furry friend, and maintain meal times, exercise opportunities, and attention from you as close to normal as possible. If your pet loves to be in the center of the holiday hustle, let them be included, but make sure they also have a quiet place to retreat to when they want it- or if they need it to relax and unwind.
Stovetop or simmering potpourris can make the whole house smell like Christmas and really heighten the festive feeling in the air. However, they can be dangerous for pets. Keep simmering pots towards the back of the stove, and keep a close watch on it, especially if you have a curious kitty that can get up near the stove to investigate. They could both injure themselves on the hot stove and/or liquid and poison themselves if they ingest it.
Wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons
What would the holidays be without gifts? The wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows can be a source of great delight and play for pets, but they can also be dangerous if ingested or if they get tangled up while playing. Try to keep these materials away from your pet, or if, for example, you have a kitty the lives for playing with ribbon, make sure play is always well-supervised so nothing goes awry.
The holidays should be a fun, festive time for everyone. Being aware of some of the traditional trimmings that can be dangerous for your pet can help to head off any potential holiday disasters and allow everyone to enjoy the festive season!