Pet owners urged to beware of festive hazards

Published 5:00 pm Monday, December 18, 2023

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

As the holiday season blankets homes in joy and festivity, pet owners are reminded to exercise extra caution to ensure a safe and joyful celebration for their furry companions. While decking the halls and indulging in delicious treats, it’s imperative for pet owners to remain vigilant regarding potential dangers that can jeopardize the well-being of their furry companions.

Dr. Alethea Gammage with Crenshaw Animal Clinic emphasized the need for pet owners to be mindful of these hazards during Christmas festivities. Common emergencies during this time include dogs falling ill after consuming pies or cakes that contain raisins, certain berries or grapes, all poisonous to dogs. Chocolate, a staple holiday treat, contains theobromine, a substance toxic to dogs and should be kept away from pets.

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Other festive hazards encompass poinsettias, pine needles, holly berries, mistletoe, turkey bones and overfeeding fatty foods, all potentially causing various health issues for pets, ranging from gastrointestinal problems to toxicity.
Marcus Moody of Luverne urges pet owners to be familiar with what plants and other items are toxic to their pets. His Poodle Mollie died in 2020 after consuming parts of a peace lily.

“Our beloved dog Mollie ate and destroyed 2 peace Lillies in our home in 2020,” Moody said. “We had no idea these were poisonous to animals. However, after being sick the night before, I awoke the next morning to find Mollie dead in her cage.”

Dr. Gammage stresses the importance of seeking veterinary advice immediately if a pet ingests any harmful substance. Even if the pet appears initially unaffected, these toxins can cause severe harm.

Holiday decorations themselves can pose threats to pets. Tinsel, ribbons and ornaments, often perceived as toys by curious pets, can lead to digestive issues or choking hazards if ingested. Opting for pet-friendly decorations and securely placing ornaments out of reach can mitigate these risks.

While the holiday season encourages indulgent feasts, not all festive foods are safe for pets. Chocolate, alcohol, onions, garlic, grapes, and bones are among the items to avoid giving pets due to their toxicity. Consider pet-friendly treats or sticking to the pet’s regular diet to prevent any health complications.

The noise and commotion accompanying celebrations might stress pets, leading to anxiety or fear. Providing a quiet, safe space for pets to retreat to during gatherings can alleviate their discomfort.

Christmas trees, a hallmark of holiday decor, can also pose risks. Securing the tree to prevent toppling and using pet-friendly ornaments, alongside cautious handling of water additives, is recommended.

Gift-giving, while a joyous tradition, warrants caution. Wrapped gifts with ribbons and bows can be enticing but potentially dangerous if chewed on or swallowed by pets.

As temperatures drop, pets may seek warmth in unexpected places, even under vehicles. Taking precautions to ensure pets are not seeking refuge under cars can prevent accidents.

Dr. Gammage urges pet owners to prioritize their pet’s well-being, emphasizing the significance of preparation and vigilance to avoid emergencies. She advises knowing the route to emergency veterinary clinics in advance and keeping essential contact numbers readily accessible.

In the spirit of the season, ensuring the safety and happiness of our furry companions remains paramount. The joyous festivities can continue harmoniously with a mindful approach to pet safety, ensuring a truly happy holiday season for both pets and their owners.