It is almost that time of year when the kids go trick-or-treating, families feast, and, unfortunately, pets become ill. Ensure the season stays merry by adhering to the following five important safety tips for your furry family members. 

Tip #1: Be prepared for a pet emergency

Nothing puts a damper on holiday joy like a trip to the veterinary emergency hospital. Not knowing where to go or who to call in the event of a pet emergency is worse. Be prepared by keeping important phone numbers and addresses easily accessible, on the refrigerator, for example, or saved in your smartphone. Information you should have on hand includes:

  • Walnut Creek Veterinary Clinic: 817-523-7210
  • The PARC emergency veterinary hospital: 817-731-3733
  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435

Tip #2: Be mindful of holiday decorations

While it is fun to decorate your home with festive garlands and lights, remember that many adornments are potentially dangerous to pets and the home. Consider some safety concerns with these common decorations:

  • Jack-o’-lanterns are generally non-toxic to our furry friends, but ingesting raw pumpkin may cause mild stomach upset. More importantly, candlelit gourds are a fire hazard, especially with wagging tails and curious kittens around. Forgo the candles, or opt for battery-operated ones instead.
  • String lights pose many risks, including strangulation, electrocution, and fire. Ensure that pets don’t have access to these decorations, which can often resemble tempting toys.
  • Christmas trees should fit securely in an appropriate stand, but you may also consider adhering your tree to a frame or ceiling to ensure stability. If using a real tree, don’t allow your pet access to the water, and refrain from adding any water treatments such as sugar or aspirin. 
  • Tinsel is especially appealing to kittens and other young pets. Ingested tinsel can cause gastrointestinal upset and sometimes obstruction, so forgo this holiday decoration if you have inquisitive furry friends. 

Tip #3: Don’t give people food to pets

When the house fills with tempting smells of a home-cooked feast, you can guarantee your pets will make their way to the kitchen. It’s hard to refuse your pet’s begging, but you must resist the temptation, as many people foods are unsafe for pets.

  • Meat, bones, or drippings can lead to stomach upset, pancreatitis, or gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Sweets made with chocolate or xylitol pose serious risks, including vomiting, diarrhea, hypoglycemia, seizures, and liver damage. Keep your pets away from any Halloween candies, holiday cookies, or other potentially dangerous desserts.
  • Onions, garlic, raisins, and grapes are all considered toxic to pets. Take extra caution when cooking with these ingredients, and never purposefully give these foods to your pets. 

Tip #4: Don’t leave your pet out of the party or travel plans

When planning a big event, don’t forget to think about your pets. Whether you are organizing a holiday party at your home or heading out for a two-week vacation, pets require some preparation. If you believe your pet will be too stressed with guests in the home, consider boarding him for the evening, or set up a quiet, calm space for him away from the party. If invitees are planning to bring other pets along, ensure all pets have the opportunity to meet on neutral territory before the big day. Pets who will be traveling with the family may need health certificates or sedative medications, so set up an appointment with our veterinary team ahead of time. 

Tip #5: Keep festive plants out of pets’ reach

Plants can be as tempting as sparkly garlands and ornaments, but they also pose a toxicity threat if consumed. Many festive plants can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, in addition to other complications. Mistletoe ingestion can lead to cardiovascular changes, whereas poinsettias can cause irritation, and certain lily varieties are especially toxic to cats. Consider faux plants this year, or opt for a pet-friendly type.  

At Walnut Creek Vet Hospital, we want pets and their families to enjoy the holiday season and stay as safe as possible. Contact our veterinary team if you have questions about holiday safety.