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Oklahoma State University

Holiday Dos and Don’ts

Monday, November 26, 2018

black pug puppy in a santa hat

For many, the holidays are a wonderful time of year to spread good cheer among friends, family, and of course, your pets. Here are some tips to keep your family pets safe this holiday season.

Remember that many of the foods we eat during the holidays may not be good for dogs and cats. Try to refrain from feeding pets table scraps or letting them sit under the table where children may drop food.

Meat fat, gravy, and poultry skin can cause life-threatening conditions such as inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) and gastrointestinal upset. Bones can splinter and create GI obstructions in some cases.

While it is a holiday staple for many people, chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs and cats. As such, remember to keep chocolate away from pets. Dark and baking chocolate are the most toxic, but all kinds of chocolate can be dangerous to pets if enough is ingested.

Be wary of baked goods and sweets which may be too rich for some pets, potentially resulting in pancreatitis and gastrointestinal upset. Also, xylitol, an artificial sweetener often found in baked goods, candy, and chewing gum, has been linked to liver failure and death in dogs.

While decorations keep the holiday season jolly, keep in mind that pets may want to eat some of the items. For example, cats sometimes eat tinsel, which can cause an intestinal blockage that may require surgery for removal.  

Don’t let your pets climb the Christmas tree. If the tree falls over, it could injure your pet. Consider tying the tree to the ceiling or a doorframe.

Keep festive plants, table centerpieces, fireplace adornments, and flowers out of your pets’ reach. Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar and holly are all considered dangerous holiday plants. If consumed, they can be poisonous to pets. Poinsettias can be troublesome as well.

Make sure to unplug holiday decorations when you are not around. Dogs and cats are sometimes tempted to chew electrical cords. This could lead to pet injuries or even a fire.

When company comes calling, remember your pets may not be so welcoming. If your pets prefer solitude, put them in a safe, quiet place away from the festivities.

Here are some ideas for picking out the perfect gift for your pet:

  • Time – spend quality time with your pet playing or taking a walk.
  • Good health – regular veterinary visits help to keep your pet healthy.
  • Microchip your pet if you have not already done so. If you have, make sure your contact information on file is up to date.
  • Make or buy treats that are best for your pet’s nutritional needs. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist for ideas.
  • Love – shower your pets with love and attention all year long.

The holidays are a wonderful time of year to enjoy family and friends, which includes your family pets. Follow these guidelines to keep everyone healthy and safe this holiday season.

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