By Jennifer Keyes-Maloney

 The holiday season is a chance to make new memories with my family – and that family includes my furry friends as well (spoiler alert – I have two bulldogs, Maggie and Augie, who I love. We just lost our cat of 19 years, Scrappy).  But, I don’t want one of those memories to include a trip to the vet – particularly where it is preventable.  And since one of my bullies is a puppy, I’m having to retrain not just Augie (the pup) but also the human members of the house or the Do’s and Don’t’s during the holiday.  Here are a couple of tips gleaned from the ASPCA, Petfinder and PetMD.

  • Secure the Tree.
    Make sure you securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet (this was particularly true in the case of a climber like my cat Scrappy). This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.
  • Tinsel-less Town.
    Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.
  • Forget the Mistletoe & Holly.
    Holly and Poinsettas, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies, can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for a pet-safe bouquet or make sure the location of these holiday favorites is out of your pet’s reach.
  • Keep a Lid on It.
    By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate (which contains theobromine and caffeine) and anything sweetened with xylitol. But during the holiday season, there is a lot of activity in the kitchen and several new, tasty smells flowing from the garbage can. Ensure your garbage can is covered because goodies found in the trash can present a significant risk for gastritis for pets and can also be a choking hazard for dogs and cats.
  • Leave the Leftovers.
    Fatty, spicy and off limits foods (i.e. raisins, grapes, chocolate, macademia nuts, onions, garlic), as well as bones, are dangerous and should not be fed to your furry friends.
  • Wiring Oh Wiring.
    Wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments are an attractive nuisance to your furry friend. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth.
  • Careful with Cocktails.
    Finally, if your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

A Thought for Festivities

Entertaining? Give your pet their own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle.