Twelve Days of Pet Holiday Safety

Holiday Celebrations at the Animal Medical Center

As a veterinarian, the ever-popular 18th century English Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” inevitably reminds me of all the potential holiday hazards for your pet. Since we are in the thick of the holiday season, I’ll use that song as inspiration to summarize the risks that holiday celebrations pose to our true loves, our pets.

Holiday Plant Dangers

The first gift, a partridge in a pear tree reminds me of the hazards of holiday plants. While we all love the YouTube videos of cats toppling Christmas trees, this can be dangerous, especially when glass ornaments, water and electricity are involved, or—god forbid—candles or other open flames. Other holiday plants pose risks for pets too, including holly, ivy, poinsettia, and the fragrant but deadly lily.

Poultry Bone Risks for Pets

The Twelve Days of Christmas includes multiple birds: turtle doves, French hens and swimming swans. While these birds themselves pose no threat, they remind me of the dangers of poultry and other meat bones. Bones can lead to esophageal, stomach and intestinal obstructions. Keep bones out of reach, and keep the trash bin tightly closed when it contains food scraps.

All That Glitters…

Think about the five gold rings. It’s unlikely you will have actual gold rings lying about, but you will have other sparkly items. Tinsel, ribbon and package string, when eaten, can result in intestinal obstruction requiring surgical removal and potentially causing peritonitis. Keep tinsel off the tree and wrapping materials stored safely away.

Fatty Food Risks

Six geese a-laying represents a huge holiday risk: the fatty meal. A well-cooked goose is delicious, but goose drippings in the bottom of the pan are a case of pancreatitis waiting to happen. Keep all fatty foods and trash away from your hungry pet.

Cocktail Canine Hazards

The eight maids a-milking conjure thoughts of the festive indulgence of eggnog, often spiked with rum or bourbon. For dogs with a sweet tooth, this intoxicant can be a potentially deadly party hazard. Keep all alcoholic beverages away from your pets, and patrol your party space to make sure no forgotten adult beverages are left where curious pets can indulge.

Holiday Party Safety

Nine ladies dancing sounds like the beginning of a great holiday party. Before the party starts, make sure your pet has their collar on and their microchip database information up to date. That way if they slip out the door unnoticed, they can be identified and returned home safely.

Prevent High Rise Syndrome

For those of us living in vertical spaces, like in New York City, don’t fling open a screenless windows to cool off your overheated apartment. This could turn your cat into one of the ten lords-a-leaping, a victim of high-rise syndrome.

Holiday Guest Safety

Lastly, if you play host to a house full of holiday guests reminiscent of eleven pipers piping plus the twelve drummers drumming, take pet-friendly precautions. Guests may not be used to pets and will leave their luggage, backpack and pocketbooks open, allowing pets to eat medication, socks and xylitol containing candies. Be sure your holiday guests understand the need to pet-proof the guest room.

Here’s to twelve wonderful days of safe and happy holiday celebrations for you and your true loves.

alcohol, Christmas tree, foreign bodies, high rise syndrome, holidays, holly, ivy, lillies, microchip, pancreatitis, plants, poinsettia, tinsel,

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