Holiday Pet Perils

The holiday season is yet again upon us, which means celebration with family, friends, and our four legged loved ones.  But along with the feasts and fanfare come some unseen dangers for our pets.  Here are some things to consider in order to keep your pet safe and prevent emergency trips to the vet during the holiday season.

When thinking of the holidays, almost everyone has gorging on their favorite foods at the top of their lists.  But keep in mind what may be just a yummy indulgence for us could spell trouble for our pets.  Foods that are rich, spicy, or high in fat when fed to our pets can lead to pancreatitis causing vomiting, diarrhea, severe dehydration and abdominal pain.   Other foods that can cause problems are garlic, onions, raisins, and chocolate.  These should be avoided at all costs because even small amounts can lead to toxicity.

Beyond food there are a host of other items animals can chew or ingest that lead to medical concerns.  One danger is electric cords.  When animals chew on the cords they can get sever electric burns in their mouths.  Even worse, they can be electrocuted resulting in life threatening respiratory issues.  Another danger is poultry bones that splinter and penetrate the lining of the gut leading to peritonitis (infection of the abdomen).  And for curious kittens and cats in particular ribbons, tinsel, and yarn if swallowed can twist in the intestines and lead to necessary surgery.

As if that’s not enough we can add accidental plant toxicities to the peril list.  Amaryllis plant bulbs, mistletoe, holly berries and lilies can all lead to the poisoning of your pet.  Most of them cause vomiting, diarrhea, and depression but can have more serious side effects including seizures, cardiac shock, or kidney failure.  The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has a comprehensive list of toxic plants at and is a good resource to have on hand.

Certainly prevention is much preferred to putting out fires but accidents do happen.  The important thing is getting your furry family member to a veterinarian immediately if he/she fall victim to any of these holiday perils.   Most of these conditions are treatable when addressed in a timely manner.  So, eat, drink, be merry and be mindful and you are sure to have a fright free holiday season!

By Tamara Borland V.M.D.