Holiday Safety Tips for Pets

Holiday Hazards


I love the holiday season and so do my pets! Our furry friends are part of the family and we want to include them in the festivities. However, the staff here at our Toronto Veterinary Emergency Clinic want you to remember that there are many potential dangers for our pets during the holidays that we should be aware of:

Christmas Trees and Decorations

Animals love to sleep under the Christmas tree. Make sure that your tree is secured and won’t fall over onto your pet. If you have a real tree, the water feeding it may contain fertilizers and bacteria that could be toxic to your pet if ingested. Tinsel is a tempting, sparkly treat for your cat or dog. If your dog or cat eats any amount of tinsel it could lead to an obstruction in their stomach and possibly require surgery. The most common sign of a obstruction in the stomach is vomiting, especially if you see tinsel within the vomit.

The same goes for tree ornaments and decorations around the house. The best defence is avoiding tinsel, keeping tempting decorations out of your pet’s reach and monitoring their activity around these items.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!

Every holiday season here at our Toronto veterinary emergency hospital we examine pets for eating or drinking something they shouldn’t have. Remember to keep a lid on your garbage can and resist the urge to feed your pets table scraps, especially bones. Turkey in particular, is too rich for your pet. Also for dessert and anything sweetened with xylitol are off-limits. There is always is lots of chocolate around the holidays. Also this treat is sweet and delicious it can pose a real threat to your pet. Depending on the dose ingested, chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrrhea, seizures and increase heart rate. If your pet gets into chocolate–no matter what dose–call our Eglinton veterinary emergency clinic for free advice.

But it doesn’t stop at food; Drinks containing alcohol or caffeine are also toxic to your pet and should be avoided. If in doubt, leave it out and stick to your pet’s regular food and treats.

Stocking Stuffers

Buying a new toy for your pet this season? Some dogs can be quite destructive with their toys, tearing them apart and even swallowing pieces. These pieces may become stuck in their digestive tract and need to be surgically removed. Try to find durable, ‘indestructible’ toys and always monitor play time. As for your cat, long, stringy toys may seem like fun but why not try a small toy stuffed with catnip or a laser light for your cat to chase?

Poisonous Plants

Certain house plants always pose a potential risk to your cats and dogs but there are specific holiday plants are of more concern. Holly ingestion may lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and mistletoe can even cause heart problems! Avoid buying these plants if you have pets and if you receive them as gifts, keep them out of reach of your pets and even consider discarding them. When bringing new plants into the house or if you receive one as a gift make sure to search it on the internet or call our emergency clinic at 416-784-4444 for advice.

Dangerous Décor

What do holiday lights, new electronic gifts and plug-in ornaments have in common? They pose a risk to your pet if the electric cord is chewed on. Electrical shocks can leave an animal in critical condition or even be lethal. Remember to unplug cords when you aren’t home and monitor your pets when around them. Candles may be easily knocked over by our pets causing burns or a fire. Always blow a candle out before you leave the room and keep them out of reach!

Holiday Visitors

You may know enough to keep all medications and table foods well out of your pet’s reach, however, house guests around the holidays may not be aware of this danger. Remind guests to keep prescription lids secured and tucked away and not to feed pets from the table. They should also be aware of how many pills remain in each bottle so that if your pet finds a way to access them, you have an idea of how many may have been consumed.

Winter Chills

With Winter well underway, many of us have a need for Ethylene Glycol, also known as Antifreeze. This toxin tastes delicious to our furry friends who happen to find a puddle of it on the garage floor or driveway. Even small amounts can lead to death in our pets. With the cold weather, pesky rodents make every attempt to find shelter in the warmth of our homes. It may be tempting to put out rat poison for them, but remember that rat poison can also poison and kill your cat and dog…even if they eat a mouse that has consumed the poison!

Wishing you a happy holidays from all of us at Central Toronto Veterinary Emergency Clinic.

Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season

Dr. Lisa Rattray, Emergency Veterinarian

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