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Holiday Safety Tips


The Christmas holiday is time of celebration, peace, and happiness.  It can also be a very busy time, as your prepare your home for friends, family, and of course, your beloved pets.  The holiday season is an exciting and eventful time of year for your pets.  Stimuli are everywhere, and you must take special precaution to ensure a safe and fun time for your curious crew.  Take special precaution to avoid any potential holiday hazard. Tinsel, String, Ornaments and Decorative Wrapping:

Tinsel used as a tree decoration and fancy ribbons used on presents are pleasing not only to our eyes, but to the eyes of our four-legged companions (especially cats). String used to tie a turkey or roast is also tempting to our pets' taste buds. If any of these items are ingested by your pet, they may become lodged in the digestive tract and require surgical removal. To avoid these problems during the holiday season, avoid tinsel unless you can keep the pet out of the room with the tree. Also keep those nicely decorated Christmas gifts out of your pet's reach and ensure that your pet doesn't get too involved in preparation of Christmas dinner!


Christmas Trees:

To help your pet avoid injuries, ensure that your Christmas tree is firmly set in place. A playful or curious pet may run into or climb the tree, knocking it over. If the pets have access to the tree room, suspending support wires to ceiling and walls, and keeping the tree in a corner of the room are helpful preventive steps. If using a real Christmas tree, be sure to avoid the use of chemicals in the water. Pets may drink this water and become ill. Note that glass ornaments can be dangerous if they fall from the tree and break. Shards of sharp, fine glass can become imbedded into the pads, or in the skin between the toes, or perhaps even be chewed on! Keep them off the ends of branches where traffic passes, or avoid them altogether.

Ornamental Plants:

Ornamental plants such as poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe, found around the house during the holiday season, may be toxic to pets if ingested and should be kept out of your pets' reach. The ingestion of holly is most commonly associated with digestive upset and nervous system depression. American Mistletoe produces quite severe irritation of the digestive tract, as well as whole body symptoms including low heart rate and temperature, difficulty breathing, unsteadiness, excess thirst, and sometimes seizures, coma, and even death. The ingestion of poinsetta leaves generally results in mild to moderate digestive upsets. If it is impossible to keep your pets and plants apart, there are a variety of spray products on the market designed to keep pets away from sprayed areas.

Christmas Chocolates:

Chocolate, a common addition to any festive occasion, is loved by people and pets, especially dogs. In fact, dogs develop a "chocolate-seeking behaviour", seeking this delicacy wherever it can be found. Chocolates contain stimulants including theobromine and caffeine. These are present at especially high concentrations in unsweetened bakers chocolate. One ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate is enough to cause chocolate toxicity in a small dog. Milk chocolate contains about 1/7th to 1/10th the amount of toxic compounds of baking chocolate, but can easily be a source of toxic levels especially in smaller dogs. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, and heart irregularities. Therefore, DO NOT leave chocolate unsupervised or within easy reach of your pet over the holidays. Note also that chocolates contain fat, and if a large quantity is consumed, irritation of the pancreas can also occur.

Other Dangerous Holiday Edibles:

Yeast Dough. Left unattended, yeast dough can turn into a serious situation if your pet were to ingest the dough. As bread rises, the yeast produces ethanol, which essentially becomes alcohol poisoning. Any ingestion of yeast dough should be assessed as soon as possible.

Macadamia Nuts. Although available all year long, macadamia nuts are more prevalent in the household environmnet around the holiday season as a yummy baking ingredient. Ingestion of these tasty little nuts can be dangerous. Ingestion symptoms include vomiting, weakness, tremors, hyperthermia, and ataxia. 

Grapes and Raisins. Despite testing, the reasons for toxicity are not well understood. If your pet has ingested even a small amount (3 or less), an exam should be booked within the hour to stop any potential poisoning. 

Alcohol. Alcohol left unattended can also harm your pet. Ensure that glasses are out of your pet's licking reach! 

Pet Toys and Presents:

When choosing that special Christmas gift for your pet, it is best to avoid toys that consist of string or that contain small, potentially removable objects such as bells. Pets can easily ingest these objects and surgery may be required for their removal. When purchasing chew bones such as rawhides for your dogs, be sure to purchase the appropriate size. Small-sized chewy bones should not be given to large breed dogs. Large pieces may be swallowed whole resulting in stomach upset, or sometimes they will choke on the pieces. Some forms of animal-based chews are potential sources of harmful bacteria, such as salmonella.

Table Scraps:

Be very cautious about feeding your pet table scraps.  Human foods that are high in fat content may cause inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), a potentially life-threatening situation in companion animals.  Also, avoid feeding raw meat and bones to pets at all times of the year, especially during the holidays.  Raw meat may contain bacteria that can cause your pet to become ill.  Sharp bone fragments are also a common source of intestinal puncture or blockage requiring surgical treatment so never offer bones.  Instruct your visitors and guests not to feed your pet without your direct authorization and supervision.


Remember to keep in mind that candles can be potentially dangerous to your pets.  Burn candles safely.  Ensure that they are out of reach from any of your pets.  An innocent and happy wag or swish of tail can be disastrous if it results in spillage or a burn.  Curious pets can burn their nose, ears, paws or tail if they get too close. 


The Holiday season can be stressful to your pet.  Changes in decoration, presence of guests or change in routine can bring about anxiety.  Take time out of your day strictly spent giving attention (grooming and playing games) to your dog or cat so that they do not feel neglected amid your busy prepping. If you should have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to call us and speak with one of our veterinary team members.

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