Happy Holidays! It’s that time of year again. Time for celebrating with family and friends, for eating way more that our stomachs can handle and decorating with lights and tinsel and everything that sparkles. It’s a time of year that most of us look forward to every year.

Eily is ready to party with her fancy new Christmas dress!

It can be a time your furry family member looks forward to as well but there are many ways that our holiday celebrations can put them at risk for illness and injury. From food to parties, decorations and noise makers, the holidays hold a plethora of potential hazards for our pets.

Eat it up – or rather don’t

            If you’re like my family, a celebration is not a celebration without food. Usually way too much food! Though it’s tempting to offer some to our furry family members there are definitely some foods to avoid.

  • Chocolate – it’s kind of a double whammy, containing both caffeine and a chemical called theobromine, which dogs can’t process. Chocolate toxicosis has a wide range of clinical signs from GI upset, to making your dog really hyper, to more serious effects such as seizures and even death. You’ll want to make sure that tray of fudge is never left unattended!
Always keep an eye on potentially toxic foods. At least Eily is asking permission… this time.
  • Fatty or spicy foods – these can lead to GI upset, vomiting and diarrhea or more seriously a condition called pancreatitis that can become life threatening. So as much as Fido begs for that piece of turkey skin it’s much better to stick with his regular treats.
  • Grapes and Raisins – another food not tolerated by dogs. For some dogs it can cause problems for the kidneys, leading to permanent damage.  If you’re looking to get rid of that fruit cake, don’t feed it to your furry family members!
  • Yeast Dough – for those of you baking your own rolls, rising yeast dough can cause increased gas and more seriously, bloat in dogs.

Deck the Halls!

There is nothing better than a house lit up with decorations for the holidays. However, our pets may simply see the decorations as new toys or their brand- new jungle gym. I know I’ll be getting creative trying to keep my puppy, Wynter out of trouble.

  • O Christmas Tree – the tree itself can create a falling hazard. Make sure your tree is stable and securely anchored. If your pets are anything like mine, you may want to install bullet proof glass enlcosure around the tree for proper protection.
  • Glass or breakable ornaments should be hung on the top part of the tree, out of reach of curious mouths and paws. After all, ornaments just look like shiny fetch balls!
Ornaments may look like toys to your dog. Eily’s wondering why it doesn’t squeak!
  • The Holly and the Ivy – and numerous other plants we receive around the holidays can cause GI upset, vomiting and diarrhea. Plants such as lilies are toxic to cats. If your plants can’t be kept safely where pets are unable to reach, you may want to go with artificial. They live longer anyway😊
  • Tinsel Town – though it may look pretty on your tree, it’s not so pretty when it’s sticking out of your cat’s rear end. Pets love to ingest tinsel and it can create serious GI issues and even intestinal blockages. Best to avoid tinsel all together if you have cats. Watch out for ribbon as well! It has the same appeal to cats as well as the same problems.
  • Setting the Mood – candles should be kept up where pets can’t get to them. Cats especially like to get the wax in their fur! Cords and wiring should be covered and of out of pets’ reach. If chewed, they can cause a potentially fatal shock.

Party On!!

          What would the holidays be without parties, gatherings of friends and family?  It’s sometimes easy to forget that all those extra people can cause quite a bit of stress and potential hazards for your furry family member.

  • Medication mishaps – make sure that all your medications are in a safe location. Remind visitors to keep theirs packed away as well. Purses provide a great place for pets to get into trouble. Make sure any medications, mints or gum are in a zippered pouch.
  • Safe Room – if your pet is one that gets stressed around people, providing a quiet room (or space for them to go if they feel overwhelmed) is essential. My girls love their kennels and can often be found there when trying to escape the rambunctious puppy.
  • 10, 9, 8.. – We love our noise makers and sometimes fireworks when midnight hits at the new year. Make sure your pets are in a quiet, dark place to avoid noise phobia and potential escape. If your pet has a noise phobia, make sure you have medications on board if needed. I know Ember will be getting her Xanax.

The holidays can be a fun and enjoyable time for both you and your furry family members. We hope these tips help to keep everyone safe and happy. We at Capitol Illini in Springfield and Chatham are here to help with any of your holiday (or other) pet problems.

Also keep in mind that most veterinary clinics and animal hospitals are closed on holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. It’s important to have the number of a local emergency clinic handy in case you need it. Here in Springfield that would be the Animal Emergency Clinic (217) 698-0870.

Happy Holidays to all!! Please feel free to share our blog and help other pets avoid some holiday hazards.