How To Keep Your Pet Safe During the Holidays
The holidays can be a crazy time, especially for people with pets. From unattended trays of chocolate to stray bits of tinsel, your home becomes filled with potential pet emergencies. We at EMRVC have compiled this list of tips for you to keep handy just in case Santa delivers any unwelcome surprises.
In Case of Emergency
Make sure you know how to get to your 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic before there’s an emergency. Talk with your veterinarian in advance to find out where you would need to take your pet, and plan your travel route so you’re not trying to find your way when stressed.
You can always contact EMRVC during business hours. But, it’s a good idea to keep these 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic numbers handy:
- Pet ER – 410-252-8387
- Animal Emergency Hospital – 410-420-7297
- ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435 (A fee may apply)
Holiday Foods Pets Should Avoid
You should always keep people food away from pets. If you just can’t stand to leave your animal out of the festivities, many companies make treats formulated just for pets. Or, you can find recipes online.
The following people foods are especially hazardous for pets:
- Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats. Although the toxicity can vary based on the type of chocolate, the size of your pet, and the amount they ate, it’s safest to consider all chocolate off limits for pets.
- Other sweets and baked goods also should be kept out of reach. Not only are they often too rich for pets, there’s a certain type of artificial sweetener called xylitol linked to liver failure and death in dogs. Xylitol is found in baked goods, candy, chewing gum, and even some brands of peanut butter.
- Turkey and turkey skin even in small amounts can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis.
- Table scraps including gravy and meat fat also should be kept away from pets because they are too rich, and can cause pancreatitis.
- Onions, raisins and grapes are much too hard for animals to digest.
- Yeast dough can cause problems for pets, including painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating.
Safe Decorations For Pets
Greenery, lights and Christmas trees can make the holidays festive, but they also pose risky temptations for our pets. That doesn’t mean your house has to look as drab as the Grinch’s cave. Follow these tips and your house will be festive pet-safe.
- Christmas trees can tip over if pets climb on them or try to play with the lights and ornaments. Consider tying your tree to the ceiling or a door frame using fishing line to secure it.
- Water additives for Christmas trees can be hazardous to your pets. Do not add aspirin, sugar, or anything to the water for your tree if you have pets in the house.
- Ornaments can cause hazards for pets. Broken ornaments can cause injuries, and ingested ornaments can cause intestinal blockage or even toxicity. Keep any homemade ornaments, particularly those made from salt-dough or other food-based materials, out of reach of pets.
- Tinsel and other holiday decorations also can be tempting for pets to eat. Consuming them can cause intestinal blockages, sometimes requiring surgery. Breakable ornaments or decorations can cause injuries. Place them high on the tree where pets can’t easily reach them.
- Electric lights can cause burns when a curious pet chews the cords. Cover your cords with rugs, or tape them onto the running boards.
- Flowers and festive plants can result in an emergency veterinary visit if your pet gets hold of them. Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly are among the common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to pets who decide to eat them. Poinsettias can be troublesome as well. The ASPCA offers a complete list of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats.
- Candles are attractive to pets as well as people. Never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle; it could result in a fire.
- Potpourris should be kept out of reach of inquisitive pets. Liquid potpourris pose risks because they contain essential oils and cationic detergents that can severely damage your pet’s mouth, eyes and skin. Solid potpourris could cause problems if eaten.
Hosting Pet-Friendly Holiday Parties
Visitors can upset pets, as can the noise and excitement of holiday parties. Even pets that aren’t normally shy may become nervous in the hubbub that can accompany a holiday gathering. The following tips will reduce emotional stress on your pet and protect your guests from possible injury.
Holiday Housekeeping Tips
- Unplug decorations while you’re not around. Cats, dogs and other pets are often tempted to chew electrical cords.
- Take out the trash to make sure your pets can’t get to it, especially if it contains any food or food scraps.
Holiday Travel Tips for Pet Owners
Whether you take your pets with you or leave them behind, take these precautions to safeguard them whenever you’re traveling.
- Interstate and international travel regulations require any pet you bring with you to have a health certificate from your veterinarian – even if you are traveling by car. Learn the requirements for any states you will visit or pass through, and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to get the needed certificate within the timeframes required by those states.
- Pets in vehicles should always be safely restrained and should never be left alone in the car in any weather. This means using a secure harness or a carrier, placed in a location clear of airbags. Never transport your pet in the bed of a truck.
- If you’re traveling by air and considering bringing your pet with you, talk with your veterinarian first. Air travel can put some pets at risk, especially short-nosed dogs. Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you regarding your own pet’s ability to travel.
- Pack for your pet as well as yourself if you’re going to travel together. In addition to your pet’s food and medications, this includes bringing copies of their medical records, information to help identify your pet if it becomes lost, first aid supplies, and other items.
- Boarding your dog while you travel? Talk with your veterinarian to find out how best to protect your pet from contagious diseases, and to make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccines.
Essex Middle River Veterinary Center provides medical and surgical care for cats and dogs at our animal hospital and veterinary clinic in Essex, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. Our services include preventive wellness care exams, vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care. Our state-of-the-art veterinary offices are conveniently located near I-695 where we see pets from Towson, Honeygo, White Marsh, and other neighboring Baltimore areas.