Holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas are often stressful but usually enjoyable for us. For our pets though, there are many dangers that can turn a day of celebration into a panicked trip to the veterinarian. Let’s talk about how to avoid that trip and keep your dog and cat safe.
Be Wary of Feeding Pets Holiday Foods
After spending all day baking those holiday cookies and cooking that ham and turkey, it can be tempting to share these delicacies with your pet. Unfortunately, that may not be the best of ideas.
Under the best of circumstances, sudden changes in diet may cause intestinal upset for your dog or cat, causing diarrhea, vomiting, and lack of appetite. For your dog, feeding rich fatty foods can cause pancreatitis, which may become severe enough to be life-threatening.
Other foods can actually be toxic to your pets. Foods like chocolate, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, yeast dough and sugar-free items containing xylitol can be very dangerous to your pet.
To keep your dog or cat safe, avoid the holiday foods and feed his regular diet.
Many of the plants we use for decorations and centerpieces for both Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations can be dangerous for our pets. For instance, lilies are quite toxic, and ingestion can be fatal. All parts of the true lilies are considered to be poisonous, whether live or in a bouquet.
Poinsettias are frequently thought of as toxic plants, but their toxicity is actually overrated. Other plants such as Amyryllis are much more toxic. Some types of holly and mistletoe can also be poisonous for pets.
If in doubt about any plant or flower, keep it out of reach of your pet.
Decorations can be problematic for pets as well.
- Glass ornaments can fall and break, exposing sharp surfaces that may injure your pet.
- Ribbons, tinsel, garland and other string-like objects can be very tempting, particularly to cats. These items can be swallowed and can cause serious damage to the gastrointestinal tract. In some cases, the ingestion of these objects can require surgical intervention. Without treatment, the damage can be life-threatening.
- Potpourri may contain dried flower parts and/or essential oils that may be poison for your pet. Cats especially are very sensitive to essential oils. Use these products cautiously around your pet.
- Candles and other sources of open flames can not only injure your dog or cat but can also pose a fire threat if knocked over. If you use them, never leave these items untended around your pet.
- The water kept at the base of live Christmas trees can pose a threat to your pet as well. It can contain fertilizers and other substances that can be toxic if ingested. It can also become stagnant posing further risk.
Stress and the Holidays
The holiday season can be a stressful time for people. The same is true for out pets, though for different reasons. Many pets don’t appreciate the change in routine that often accompanies the holiday season. This is especially true of cats.
If you have a large gathering of friends and family over the holidays, be certain to give your pet a private area where he can retreat to rest and relax if necessary. This area should include comfortable bedding for your pet, a water and food station and, for cats, a litter box. Placing some favorite toys in the area may comfort your pet also.
Try to keep to your pet’s regular routine as much as possible during the holidays to reduce the amount of stress your pet experiences. Feeding and walking schedules should not change if at all possible. Be sure to set aside some time to spend alone with your pet, as well, so that he doesn’t feel left out and forgotten.