Holiday Hazards


The Non-Food Dangers To Your Dogs During The Holidays

Everyone knows and worries about what foods your pets should and shouldn’t be eating. But, many pet owners tend to overlook the non-food related dangers of the holidays that many pets might accidentally be exposed to. There is a plethora of hazardous things your furry friend could be subjected to during the holiday season that could cause discomfort, illness, or even death. This blog will cover and discuss these various holiday hazards that many unsuspecting pet owners may have in their home at this very moment!  If you want to learn more about the non-food related holiday hazards, continue reading. But, if you want to learn more about the various foods that are toxic to your pets, check out our previous blog “People Food & Pets: Toxic or Safe?”.

Holiday Plants

One of the most common and traditional gifts during the holiday season is the gift of a holiday plant. Some examples of holiday plants include Holly, Mistletoe, and Poinsettias. All three of these plants are very festive, but very dangerous if consumed. Holly and Poinsettias can irritate your dog or cat’s mouth and stomach causing drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Mistletoe contains dangerous chemicals such as phoratoxins and lectins which affect the heart causing low blood pressure and slowed heart rate. Consuming mistletoe can also cause additional side effects including vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. If you have any of the aforementioned holiday plants in your home this season, be sure to keep them out of reach of your pets to prevent any accidental consumption.

Small Toys and Knick Knacks

Many long-lasting traditions come with the holiday seasons including gift giving and  decorations. Both gifts and decorations come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but specifically the small ones can be dangerous for your dog. Small children’s toys such as matchbox cars, legos, marbles, etc. can be a serious choking hazard for your dog and even your cat if consumed. Even worse, if your pet does manage to successfully swallow these small childrens toys, they could become lodged in their stomach or intestines. This blockage in your pet’s stomach or intestines could cause a hole or tear leading to a life threatening infection. Symptoms of this may also not be immediately apparent as it could take one or two days until your pet shows signs of illness. This also applies to holiday decorations as they can often be equally as small in shape and size as children’s toys. Whether it’s toys, decorations, knick-knacks, or spare batteries for your drone, avoid leaving anything lying around that is small and potentially dangerous.

Tinsel, Ribbon, And Gift Wrap

Pet’s don’t always know any better, in regards to what they should or shouldn’t eat. This is why it’s so important that we pay close attention to what they come in contact with. Many pets have been known to eat things they’re not supposed to as mentioned above regarding plants and small toys/decorations. Other items commonly found around the holiday season that are also dangerous are all found on the outside of your presents. Gift wrap, ribbons, bows, tinsel, string, and other gift decorations should not be consumed as they can cause serious stomach and intestinal damage. When wrapping or unwrapping holiday gifts, keep all the aforementioned gift wrapping articles off the ground and away from your dog or cat to avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort for your furry friend. 

House Fires

Another common holiday tradition in most religions is the use of candles. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa all implement the use of candles in various ways. While these uses of candles are both symbolic and beautiful, they can also potentially be dangerous. Having an open flame in your home along with a dog that has high energy or a cat with a tendency to get into trouble is a recipe for disaster. It is not uncommon for your pet to knock over candles or other sources of open flames, thus starting a house fire. Sadly thousands of pets die every year from house fires and oftentimes these fires are accidently started by the pets themselves. Other things to look out for regarding house fire prevention include electrical cords (puppies really like to chew on them), fireplace or fire pits (pets will sometimes play with the embers or burning logs), and stovetops (many stove top knobs can be accidentally turned by medium to large sized dogs). This holiday season, be very mindful of where you keep any sources of open flames and avoid letting your dog have access to them if possible. 

The Big Picture

The holiday season is a time for celebration, gift-giving, thankfulness, and cheer. It’s a time of year that tends to bring out the best in us as it reminds us to be a little nicer, more considerate, and more thoughtful to each other. This includes our pets too! It’s easy to get distracted during the holidays between the gifts, decorations, and merriment, but don’t forget about your furry best friend. Keep any toxic plants out of your pet’s reach to avoid an unnecessary trip to the veterinarian. Don’t leave any tiny toys or decorations lying around and clean up any materials after wrapping or unwrapping any gifts. Don’t forget to be extra cautious when using any source of open flame in your home where your dog or cat could reach to avoid a house fire. If you keep all these pieces of pet-friendly advice in mind, I guarantee you and your pets will have a wonderful and cheerful holiday. Happy holidays to you, your family and your furry family!