Winter Holiday Pet Safety Tips by Kristel Weaver, DVM, MPVM

December has arrived and toys, electronics, and wrapping paper pack the stores. It's fun to include our pets in the holiday celebration, but watch out for seasonal hazards.

It's the most wonderful time of the year
Including pets in seasonal festivities is trendy and fun. At our house, each pet has his or her own paw print stocking which we stuff with toys and chews on Christmas morning. If they're lucky, they get other presents like a new collar or bed. We've received adorable holiday cards starring beloved pets. For example, last year we received a card with the family Boxer dressed as an elf and another with the whole family in Santa hats, including their Golden Retrievers! The possibilities are endless!

Rockin' around the Christmas tree or Menorah
The Christmas tree presents several avoidable hazards. Make sure the tree is well anchored so it cannot be pulled or knocked over by a climbing cat or rambunctious dog. Keep the power cords protected from cord chewing pets. Hang ornaments that resemble toys out of reach. Avoid loose tinsel or ribbon that can be eaten and cause a linear foreign body. Consider putting strung popcorn up high or leaving it off altogether. A lit Menorah is a fire hazard; ensure your pets can't knock it over.

Deck the halls with toxic holiday plants?

Three of the most common holiday plants can be toxic to pets. If enough holly is ingested it can cause an upset stomach and symptoms similar to a caffeine overdose. Fortunately, holly isn't very tasty, so toxicity is uncommon. Mistletoe can cause upset stomach and cardiovascular signs if a substantial amount is consumed. Lastly, Poinsettia can cause drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea if enough is eaten. Poinsettia toxicity is typically exaggerated and in reality poses only a mild concern.

While visions of sugar plums, raisin, and chocolate danced in their heads
Chocolate is very toxic to dogs, however the size of the dog and the darkness of the chocolate determine whether or not it will cause a serious problem. For example, dark chocolate is more likely to be toxic than milk chocolate and a Chihuahua is more likely to be symptomatic than a Saint Bernard. Raisins can be toxic to dogs and cause acute kidney failure. Keep it all out of reach.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy holiday to you and your pets!

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