Top 5 Holiday Dangers to Pets

The holidays are a festive time for us and our pets. However, due to ongoing activities and constant distractions, we can easily overlook potential dangers to our four-legged family members.Take preventive measures to protect your pets this holiday season. Being aware of these top five dangers could save you a trip to the veterinary emergency room.

1. Holiday Tinsel and Ornaments
Tinsel, while not toxic, is very attractive to pets, particularly cats. The shiny, dangling decoration reflects light and can move in the slightest draft — appearing to come alive to watchful critters.
The problem with tinsel is that once it’s consumed, it can cause serious injury to your pet. If not caught in time, this foreign body ingestion could actually be fatal as it twists and bunches inside your pet’s intestines. Immediate veterinary care is required. In addition, bright and colorful tree ornaments can attract your pet’s curiosity. Place glass, aluminum and paper ornaments higher up on the tree. Pets can chew and swallow these fragile objects and not only can broken pieces form sharp edges that may lacerate your pet’s mouth, throat and intestines, they could also create a choking hazard.

2. Holiday Lighting and Candles

Twinkling, shiny and dangling holiday lights — such as the icicle, netting, garland, curtain, rope and candle varietal — may be another source of danger to your curious pets. Got a pet that likes to chew? Electrical shock may occur when a pet chomps down on an electrical cord, causing tongue lacerations and possible death. Check your holiday lights for signs of fraying or chewing and use a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution. If you have candles on display, place them in a hard-to-reach spot so that your pets can not access them. Not only can pets seriously burn themselves, but knocking over candles creates a fire hazard and may leave a trail of hot wax that will easily burn the pads of paws and more.
3. Gift Wrap Ribbon

You may be tempted to fashion your pet with a decorative ribbon “collar” but beware that this could become a choking hazard. Also, it’s best to quickly discard ribbons and bows wrapped around holiday gifts so that your curious companions won’t be enticed to chew or swallow them. Ingested ribbon can cause a choking hazard and ultimately twist throughout the intestines, leading to emergency surgery and even death.
4. Food Hazards
Festive events often mean edible treats — and lots of them. Unfortunately, some of the most popular holiday goodies, such as chocolate, bones and nuts, can be extremely toxic or fatal to pets.
Different types of chocolate contain various levels of fat, caffeine and the substances methylxanthines. In general, the darker and richer the chocolate (i.e., baker’s chocolate), the higher the risk of toxicity. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, dogs might experience vomiting, diarrhea, urination, hyperactivity, heart arrhythmias, tremors and seizures.
Fat trimmings and bones are dangerous for dogs. Fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked, may cause pancreatitis. And, although it seems natural to give a dog a bone, a dog can choke on it. Bones can also splinter and cause an obstruction or lacerations of your dog’s digestive system.
Abundant in many cookies and candies, certain nuts should not be given to pets. Almonds, non-moldy walnuts and pistachios can cause an upset stomach or an obstruction of your dog’s throat and/or intestinal tract. Macadamia nuts and moldy walnuts can be toxic, causing seizures or neurological signs. Lethargy, vomiting and loss of muscle control are among the effects of nut ingestion.
Keep your pet on her regular diet and caution visitors against giving your pet special treats or table scraps.
5. Toxic Holiday Plants
They may be pretty, but some holiday plants are poisonous—even deadly. As little as a single leaf from any lily variety is lethal to cats. Others to avoid: Christmas tree pine needles can produce oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, trembling and posterior weakness.
Holly, commonly found during the Christmas season, can cause intense vomiting, diarrhea and depression.
Mistletoe, another Christmas plant, can cause significant vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, erratic behavior, hallucinations and death when ingested.
Poinsettia, contrary to popular belief, is not deadly; however, it can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach and sometimes vomiting if a large quantity has been consumed.

Taking precautions with pets during these festive times can help ensure that you and your family will enjoy a happy — and healthy — Holiday Season!


Top FAQs Pet Owners Ask a Veterinary Hospital

We here at All Creatures Hospital receive a lot of questions from pet owners, with many of them coming from new or soon-to-be pet owners. To save you time, we have put together a quick list of the top FAQs our veterinary hospital receives from pet owners, as well as some tips on when your pet may need to see a vet.

How Often Should My Pet See the Vet?

Much like people, dogs and cats should regularly visit a clinic for routine care. How often they will need to be seen by one of our vets, however, will depend largely on the age of the pet.

  • Kittens and Puppies: Before your pet is 16 weeks old, your puppy or kitten should see us every three to four weeks. Young animals should visit us again at six months where we will spay or neuter your pet and ensure that they are healthy. We will discuss other important things such as training, housebreaking, and socialization.
  • Adults to 7-10 Years: Depending on the breed or the health of the pet, your dog or cat may only need to see us here at All Creatures Hospital once a year, where it will receive a head-to-tail physical examination. If vaccinations are due, we will administer these. We may request a stool sample to rule out the presence of internal parasites.
  • Seniors 7-10 Years and Older: Older pets benefit from bi-annual check-ups, and we tend to request tests such as blood tests and urine tests more regularly to make sure your pet’s kidneys, thyroid hormone levels, and other items are healthy.

Is Vomiting Unusual for My Pet?

Your pet vomiting once is not a reason to rush it to a veterinary hospital. Just as with human beings, our dogs and cats will throw up to eliminate something that has not agreed with their tummies. If, however, any of the points below are true about your pet’s vomiting, you should see us at All Creatures Hospital as soon as possible.

  • Frequent vomiting
  • Blood is present in the vomit
  • Your pet has a fever

When Should I Bring My Pet in if it Has Unusual-Looking Stool?

As with vomiting, it is not uncommon for a dog or a cat to suffer from a bout of diarrhea or hard stools from time to time. However, it is important to keep in mind that constant diarrhea (diarrhea which lasts for longer than two days) is abnormal and your pet should pay a visit to a veterinary hospital as soon as possible. Be sure to make note of the stool’s features, including the shape of the stool, if there is blood or mucous present, and if your pet has been straining while eliminating.