Christmas Safety Tips from our RVT team at Lockerby Animal Hospital

By December 18, 2013 Uncategorized

Holiday Hazards – Helpful Tips to Keep your Pet Safe this Holiday Season!


It is that time of year again! We all love the holiday season and that includes our pets. With all the decorations, tasty treats and visits from family and friends that come along with this time of year it is easy to not pay close attention as we normally do to our pets or the potential hazards that may be around the home.

Unfortunately every year we see a number of toxicity cases or foreign body ingestions along with other emergencies at this time of year that could have been avoided.

Our team at Lockerby Animal Hospital is dedicated to educating our clients to the best of our ability.  With all the potential risks that come along with this time of year we have put together a list of common holiday hazards that could be around your home and the side effects they can cause.

Holiday Treats and Sweets

Chocolate and Cocoa                                                  

Chocolate and cocoa when ingested can cause your pet to become agitated and potentially cause them to vomit or have diarrhea.  Depending on the type and amount of chocolate or percent of cocoa in the food that was ingested your pet may also have an increase in heart rate as well as tremors and possibly seizures.  On occasion death can result from chocolate and cocoa ingestion as well.

Common Holiday Ingredients (grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, avocados, macadamia nuts, walnuts and artificial sweeteners)

Certain ingredients in holiday recipes if ingested by your pet can cause a wide range of symptoms from lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea to more serious problems like tremors, joint stiffness and kidney or liver failure.  For holiday treats for your pets stick with dog and cat treats that your pet is used to having.  Make sure not to give too many treats as this can also cause vomiting and diarrhea.  Bones and other hard chews are not recommended as they can cause your pet to fracture a tooth while chewing or a gastrointestinal blockage if ingested.

Holiday Dinner and Drinks

Christmas and New Year celebrations go hand in hand with delicious (usually fatty) meals and more often than not alcoholic drinks. While fine for most of us to consume in moderation, fatty meals and alcohol can be very dangerous for our pets.

Fatty meals can cause pets to experience gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and diarrhea) and potentially cause a condition call pancreatitis. Some trimmings may contain bones which can cause stomach or intestinal perforations and painful constipation.

Alcohol can cause your pet to vomit, become disorientated or lethargic, have difficulty breathing and possibly have tremors, seizures or go into a coma.

 Holiday Household Hazards

Holiday Decorations and Lights

While decorations and lights make your home feel festive they can cause some serious problems for you and your pet.

Candles can pose a serious fire hazard if your pet is able to reach them and knock them over.  If you enjoy having candles in your home around the holidays consider a flameless battery operated candle instead!

Certain decorations like tinsel or ribbon can cause serious gastro-intestinal problems for your pet.  As the object travels through the stomach and intestines it can cut the tissue and even cause a blockage.  It is best if you have pets (especially cats) to not use these types of decorations or at least ensure your pet can not reach them.

Christmas lights and electrical cords do not only pose a fire hazard if your pet chews them but can also cause your pet to be electrocuted.  Signs of electrocution are burns in or around your pet’s mouth, difficulty breathing and seizures.  Unfortunately some pets may suffer from cardiac arrest at time of electrocution causing death.  Try to keep all cords out of your pets reach. Ensure to unplug any lights when you are not home to directly supervise your pet and try to inspect all cords on a regular basis for potential damage caused from your pet chewing them.

Holiday Plants

Holly, poinsettias, mistletoe and Christmas cactus all have properties that may cause your pet to become irritated, vomit or have diarrhea if ingested.  Some pets may experience heart arrhythmias (abnormal heart rate) as well as damage to their stomach or intestines from spiny leaves of some plants.  It is best to either keep these plants out of reach or entertain using artificial plants.  Although artificial plants will not pose a toxic risk to your pet they can still pose a risk of intestinal blockages or perforations.  If you choose the artificial route you will still have to keep the plants out of your pet’s reach if you are not around to directly supervise.

The Holiday season is meant to enjoy the company of friends and family, including your four legged members. Hopefully this information will keep you and your pets safe not only throughout the holiday season but all year long.

If you have any questions about any information in this blog please do not hesitate to call the clinic and speak to one of our team members.

Happy Holidays and Best wishes in 2014!


The Lockerby Animal Hospital RVT Team

Allison, Stephanie, Darolyn and Jill




Author lockerby

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