At this time of year—especially this year when you cannot gather with many of your loved ones—you’re likely frazzled and overwhelmed trying to plan the perfect holiday celebrations for your family. Although the holidays will look a bit different this year thanks to COVID, hazards for your pet remain the same. And, as you’re distracted looking for that unique gift, perfecting your ham glaze, and shedding those pandemic pounds for your New Year’s Eve finery, your pet can easily find mischief. As you tackle your to-do list, your Animal Medical Hospital of Naples team is here to make your life easier with our list of the most common troubles your furry pal may discover this holiday season. Take a look.

Decoration disasters and pets

Festive decorations are a huge part of making the season feel like the holidays, but all that sparkle can lure in an unsuspecting pet. Keep your four-legged friend away from these troublesome decorations, so they stay off the naughty list and out of our hospital: 

  • Christmas tree — Whether artificial or real, the tree itself can be hazardous to your pet. The oils from the needles of a live tree can irritate your pet’s mouth, while their sharp points can pierce the gastrointestinal tract. Synthetic materials are also never good for your pet, because if they eat enough needles from your artificial tree, the sharp pieces can form a blockage.
  • Ornaments — Delicate, handmade ornaments and the popular glass balls are also favorites of pets who enjoy batting at objects or taking off with toys. However, they can easily slide right off the branch, shatter on the ground, or the hook can get caught in a paw or mouth. Opt for shatterproof or cloth ornaments if your pet has access to your tree.
  • Lights — Flickering lights can draw in your pet to nibble on the odd chew toy, leading to electric shocks or burns. Protect lights and wires by placing them out of reach or using cord covers. 
  • Tree water — You want your tree to last as long as possible, so you add fertilizers and preservatives to the stand’s water, but your pet will drink the toxic water if the stand is uncovered. Purchase a covered stand, or avoid using chemicals and keep the water fresh.
  • Holiday plants — One of the biggest myths about toxic holiday plants surrounds the poinsettia. Contrary to popular belief, the poinsettia is not toxic, although the sap can irritate your pet’s mouth and stomach. Other holiday plants, including mistletoe, holly, and the Christmas cactus, are much more dangerous. 

If your pet is a master at messing up your holiday decor, consider decorating a room they cannot enter or blocking access with a baby gate. 

Food failures and pets

Another major holiday tradition is delicious comfort foods and sweet treats overloading dining room tables, which can also entice your pet into landing on the naughty list. Keep their furry paws off the following food hazards:

  • Ham, gravy, and high-fat foods — Rich, high-fat foods can be difficult for pets’ bodies to metabolize and may create painful, potentially life-threatening, pancreatitis.   
  • Chocolate, xylitol, and other sweets — Chocolate pies, stockings full of chocolate Santas, and xylitol-sweetened desserts can be toxic to your pet, leading to gastrointestinal upset, heart issues, liver failure, and severe hypoglycemia.
  • Raisins — Christmas puddings and fruitcake may be studded with raisins, which seem like benign fruits, but only a small amount can cause kidney failure in your pet.

No matter how much your pet begs, avoid sharing these foods. Instead, offer pet-safe options, like fresh veggies or pet-specific treats.

Celebration chaos with pets

All your holiday prep ends in a festive celebration filled with fun, food, and guests, but parties can hold a host of dangers for your four-legged friend. If you invite your pet to the party, watch out for the following:

  • Cocktails — Unattended sweet alcoholic beverages can entice your pet to take a sip, so ensure your guests keep their drinks out of paws’ reach.
  • Party poppers — Party poppers, noisemakers, and other party favors can startle your pet, or be eaten, and become a foreign object blockage. Keep your pet out of the room until the festivities are cleaned up.
  • Open doors — An open door gives your pet the chance to escape and perhaps bolt into traffic while you’re busy greeting guests. Barricade your doorway to prevent your pet from slipping out the door and into danger.
  • Strangers — A houseful of strangers can be scary for your pet, causing undue stress and anxiety. Set them up in a quiet, comfortable room of their own with a tasty treat and new toy for a party of one.

Parties can be stressful for pets as well as people, so closely monitor your pet’s body language for signs of fear, anxiety, or stress, and provide comfort and relaxation as needed. 

The Animal Medical Hospital of Naples team wishes your family a safe and happy holiday season, but if your furry pal runs into trouble with the tree, gifts, food, or celebrations, we’ve got your back. Give us a call for help.