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Ways to keep your pets safe during the holidays

With the holiday season underway, it’s important to remember that the things that bring us joy and cheer may not necessarily be the safest for our pets. Everything from food to decorations to even plants can be problematic for dogs and cats. Below are some tips that can help keep your pets safe this holiday season and hopefully avoid any trips to the pet ER. 


  1. Food: It seems obvious, but many foods can be toxic to your pet. Chocolate, for instance, can cause anything from vomiting and diarrhea to even seizures. Avoid any foods that contain xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener that can lead to liver failure and even death in some instances. Other items to avoid include raisins or grapes, which can lead to kidney failure. Onions, which can cause hemolytic anemia, can also be harmful. In general, it’s best to avoid giving your pet any table scraps unless you are 100% sure of all the ingredients and you’re positive your pet can tolerate them. 


  1. Decorations: I cannot tell you how many times I have had to remove tinsel and ribbons from a cat’s GI tract during the holidays, so please keep these out of their reach. Lights, as beautiful as they are, can be a source for burns to the mouth/tongue or even electrocution if your pet chews on them or their cords. Plants, especially poinsettias, mistletoe, balsam, and holly, can be toxic to cats, so it’s best to keep them away from them. 


  1. Guests: If you are having guests over, it’s important that your pets have a quiet place indoors that they can go to if they want to get away, such as a kennel or room that your guests won’t go into. Ensuring your pet has the right identification on them, such as a collar with your contact information, and making sure your pet is microchipped can be essential in reuniting your pet with you should they escape your house. 


Even though the holidays are often a great time to celebrate with your friends and family, precautions can be taken to ensure your pet’s safety. If you are concerned your pet has ingested something that may be toxic, please contact the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. If you notice your pet is declining or acting in a concerning way, please proceed to the nearest Veterinary Emergency Clinic. 


Happy Holidays,

Dr. Neary 



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