As the year winds down, your calendar is likely packed full of holiday celebrations. Holiday festivities bring opportunities for making memories, eating delicious treats, and decking the halls. While these can be fun activities for people, pets may not agree—except for the treat-eating part. Our furry friends can easily become stressed and anxious over the holidays, with chattering guests, odd smells, loud music, and strange home decor, and they can easily get into mischief in the commotion of a celebration. To ensure your holidays remain merry and bright, avoid the following list of potential pitfalls.
#1: Tasty tragedies
Gastrointestinal signs, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite, are common in pets who overindulge in holiday goodies. Pets who consume excessive amounts of fat from ham, gravy, latkes, brisket, or dairy products can suffer from a potentially life-threatening endocrine disorder known as pancreatitis. Severe pancreatic inflammation disrupts the flow of digestive enzymes produced in the pancreas, causing them to leak out into the abdomen, where they begin to digest the body itself. Bleeding and infection can occur, leading to shock and death.
Other toxic treats include chocolate coins, sugar-free goodies sweetened with xylitol, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, and heavily seasoned side dishes full of garlic or onions. Play it safe by keeping all your holiday treats to yourself and only share pet-friendly morsels with your furry friend. Fresh veggies, plain rice, and skinless, white meat are acceptable in small portions, but, when in doubt, stick with commercial pet treats.
#2: Wrapped woes
Although kittens and puppies are adorable when outfitted in ribbons, bows, and strings of lights for photo opportunities, avoid wrapping your bundle of fur in a potential hazard. One glance away and you may be chasing the tail-end of a ribbon your pet has swallowed. Ribbons and bows can create a linear foreign body, which can lead to intestinal perforation. Often, one end of the ribbon becomes caught, whether around the base of the tongue, in the stomach, or at the beginning of the small intestine, while the other end attempts to travel through the entire GI tract for elimination. As the body works to pass the ribbon, the intestines bunch up around the foreign body, similar to how a drawstring bunches pants. The constant sawing motion can cause the ribbon to slice through the intestinal walls, leaking intestinal contents into the abdomen and creating a life-threatening infection.
People also commonly wrap pets in bows and ribbons when giving them as gifts. But, the holidays are one of the most stressful times to bring a new pet into your home—or to gift to someone else’s home—which in turn creates more stress and prevents the pet from starting off on the right paw. Choosing a new pet is a personal process, and attempting to pick the “right” pet for someone else is difficult, and can place a potentially unwanted financial and caretaking burden on another person or family. If you know that a new pet would be welcome, consider creating a welcome basket filled with treats, toys, and bedding instead.
#3: Decorative disasters
Christmas trees, the Hanukkah menorah, and New Year’s Eve confetti-filled balloons help brighten the holiday season, but can pose a threat to inquisitive pets. Christmas trees can fall under the weight of a climbing cat or a dog leaping up for salt-dough ornaments or popcorn garlands, while the water in the tree stand is often stagnant, or full of chemicals and fertilizers. Fragile ornaments and lights pose another threat, as they can intrigue pets as batting or chewing toys, leading to broken glass shards or electrical burns and shocks.
The Hanukkah menorah creates a beautiful glow that may lure in a curious pet, only to singe whiskers, burn a paw, or start a house fire. Other fire hazards include candlelit table centerpieces, or the fireplace adorned with dangling stockings. All open flames must be placed well away from pets and small children, and a fireplace screen should be put in place to prevent accidental injury.
New Year’s Eve is a glitzy celebration with dazzling streamers, confetti, and shiny balloons, which are inedible hazards for pets. Also, balloons released outdoors can harm wildlife.
#4: Celebratory catastrophes
The louder the music, the better the party, right? Not so for our pets with sensitive ears. Celebrations, with their thumping music, overeager animal lovers, shrieking laughter, and fireworks, can create stress and anxiety in the most social of pets. Help your pet enjoy her own holiday celebration in peace in a quiet room. Gather her party supplies of a cozy bed, treat puzzle, new toy, and calming music and pheromones—canine or feline—to help her happily ring in the New Year.
Did your pet gobble the entire batch of your grandmother’s prize-winning latkes? Chew the tinsel off the tree? Is she a quivering, nervous wreck during your New Year’s Eve celebration? We’re here to help ease your holiday stress—give us a call.