Right on schedule, the holiday season has arrived with festive decorations, delicious food, and plenty of merriment. As you prepare to celebrate, keep your pet’s comfort and safety in mind. Enjoy a merry—not scary—holiday season by following our Animal Hospital of Stoney Creek team’s practical holiday pet safety tips. 

Merry: Festive pet-safe holiday decorations to make your home merry and bright
Scary: A curious pet who mistakes decorations for chew toys

Holiday items appear in stores earlier every year—perhaps a psychological nudge to get a jump on your holiday shopping—and that means many families decorate their homes much earlier too. Whether you are first in line to buy out the store and transform your home to a winter wonderland, or you prefer to wait to buy the last Charlie Brown tree on the lot, consider your pet’s safety when decorating your home, and avoid a scary holiday pet emergency. Follow these safety tips when displaying holiday decorations: 

  • Tree — Many families’ favorite holiday event is putting up the Christmas tree. However, before you start trimming the tree, consider these pet safety tips:
    • Secure your tree — Use a secure tree stand to ensure your tree cannot easily be toppled, and consider securing the tree to the ceiling with fishing line.
    • Restrict tree access — A live tree can be especially enticing for your pet, and a curious four-legged companion may be tempted to nibble the branches. Fir tree oils can irritate your pet’s mouth and cause drooling and vomiting, and ingested pine needles may puncture your pet’s intestinal tract or lead to a dangerous intestinal obstruction.  Artificial pine needles can be equally dangerous and may also lead to an obstruction. To discourage your pet from chewing on your tree, prevent them from accessing the tree unsupervised, or place a small pet fence or pen at the tree’s base to restrict your dog’s or cat’s access.
    • Cover the tree base —Many trees are treated with preservatives to keep them fresh longer. Cover your tree water to prevent your pet from drinking chemical preservatives added to commercial trees, and change the water often. 
  • Ornaments — If your pet has access to your tree, avoid placing delicate ornaments on the lowest branches. Your pet may view a shiny hanging ornament as a fun toy, and if they ingest an ornament, your four-legged friend can experience serious health problems, such as a mouth, esophageal, stomach, or intestinal injury.
  • Lights and cords —  To prevent your pet from chewing the tree’s string lights, position them out of your furry pal’s reach. If your pet chews an electric cord, frayed wires can burn and even electrocute them. Use short extension cords, taping them to the floor and wall, and turn off the Christmas lights when you are not able to supervise your pet. 

Merry: Baking holiday treats to share with friends and family, but not with your pet
Scary: A pet who ingests a toxic ingredient

Your pet likely enjoys eating holiday treats more than you enjoy baking them. However, your sweet pet does not always know what is best for them, and they are more than happy to gobble up any food scraps that fall to the floor during a holiday baking session. Unfortunately, many common holiday baking ingredients can be toxic to your pet, including:

  • Xylitol — Sugar-free desserts may include xylitol, a low-calorie sweetener that causes pets to experience severe hypoglycemia and potential liver failure.
  • Alcohol — Pets are tempted by the sweet aroma, and can suffer alcohol poisoning.
  • Nuts — Nuts have a high fat content, which can cause pets to develop pancreatitis. Macadamia nuts can be especially toxic, even in small amounts, and can lead to vomiting, tremors, rapid heartbeat, and in some cases, paralysis. 
  • Chocolate — Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, two dangerous chemical compounds that act as stimulants in pets. These compounds cause your pet’s cardiovascular and nervous systems to overreact. Darker and bitter chocolate contains higher caffeine and theobromine levels, and a small amount can cause dangerous physical effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, agitation or nervousness, high heart rate, panting, pacing, tremors, or seizures.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, immediately contact the Pet Poison Helpline, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, or our Animal Hospital of Stoney Creek team.

Merry: Hosting a holiday party at your and your pet’s home
Scary: An overstimulated pet who becomes fearful and anxious

Holiday parties are a fun way to celebrate the season with friends and family. However, to ensure your pet feels safe and comfortable during the festivities, have a plan for your four-legged friend’s wellbeing. The influx of unfamiliar faces, loud noises, and changes to their routine often overwhelms pets. To ensure your pet has a place to retreat if they become fearful or anxious, provide them with a room in a quiet part of the house, away from the party’s excitement. To create a relaxing environment, play music or the TV, and provide tasty treats and a comfortable bed where your pet can recharge. 

Follow these safety tips help ensure your pet enjoys an oh-so-merry holiday season. If your pet does get themself in trouble during the holidays, contact our Animal Hospital of Stoney Creek team to schedule your four-legged friend’s high-quality veterinary care.