The holiday season is a time when parties, families, and gifts are centered around food. And there in the middle of it is your dog. Who can resist the high speed tail wag, pleading eyes, and the feed me dance? It’s not easy for you and your guests to say no, but it is in the best interest of your pet to not indulge them with tasty holiday treats. Many treats can not only add extra calories and unwanted weight gain to your pet but can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, a more severe illness called pancreatitis or potentially life-threatening toxicity. Bones can cause obstructions, pierce the intestines, and break teeth. A lot of the holiday foods we enjoy such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, alcohol, coffee, and gums, candy and foods with xylitol are all potentially deadly to your pet.
Do you have a counter surfer or trash inspector? Pets will find a way to get to delicious goodies. Keep foods well out of reach and trash in a sealed trash can. You’d be amazed how high an animal will go in pursuit of something delicious! Coats and purses of guests can hold lots items that are interesting to pets. Many of these items can be toxic when eaten by a pet. This includes gum, including sugar free xylitol gum and nicotine replacement, medications, cigarettes, candy and other items. Keep purses and coats securely out of reach or in a closet to keep your pet safe.
Food is not the only potential hazard during the holidays. Decorations such as tinsel, ribbon and string attract pets but can cause life threatening intestinal obstructions if swallowed. Lights can shock or burn your pets. Be sure to hide or cover electrical cords or use battery powered lights. Keep pets indoors during fireworks. Christmas trees can be knocked over and injure a pet. The water in the Christmas tree basin can be poisonous, so be sure to cover it so your pets cannot drink out of it. Candles can burn a pet or start a house fire when knocked over, so never leave candles or fireplaces unattended. Flameless candles are a safe alternative. Ornaments can be dangerous to pets when broken or chewed on. Many holiday plants are toxic to pets (poinsettias, holly, mistletoe, and Christmas trees). If you have a pet who likes to redecorate, nibble, chew or destroy decorations or presents, make a "no pet zone" by using baby gates or keeping the doors closed to rooms that contain the decorations.
Visit the ASPCA's Holiday Safety Tips for a full list of holiday hazards.