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Watch Out For These Hidden Hazards This Holiday Season

The holidays are about family, friends, and food. Unfortunately, they are also a top time for visits to the emergency vet due to holiday hazards in the home.

Sometimes bad things happen to good pets, but there are steps you can take to keep your fur children safe this holiday season. Here are the top 3 categories of hidden health hazards so that you can be better prepared to prevent disasters from striking.

#1 – Decorations

Christmas trees in particular can be dangerous. If they aren’t secured to the wall, they can tip over and fall onto an unsuspecting dog.

The water for a live tree may contain fertilizers or other toxins which can poison your dog if he drinks the water out of the stand (or if it spills when the tree gets jostled). Even if it doesn’t contain toxins, stagnant tree water may become a bacteria breeding pool.

Mistletoe, holly, lilies, and other live plants may also be toxic for your dog if eaten. (Here’s a searchable list of toxic plants.) A common misconception is that poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs. Our resident vet, Dr. Kathryn Primm weighs in with the real deal:

“Poinsettia often appears on lists like these, but its danger level is overstated. Either dogs are very unlikely to actually eat it or it isn’t as toxic as purported. If your dog eats it, don’t panic, but it can cause stomach upset. It is probably better displayed out of reach.”

While poinsettia is safer than expected, mistletoe is not. According to Dr. Primm:

“Real mistletoe is very toxic to animals (as well as humans). If you hang it, make sure it stays out of reach. Symptoms of ingestion can include some very bad signs, like GI upset, cardiac collapse, and erratic behavior.”

Wires, batteries, and ornaments can all be dangerous if chewed on, and unattended candles can be knocked over by a careless pet and start a house fire. All in all, it’s a good idea to carefully consider each of your holiday decorations and think about how they could be harmful to your pet and what you can do to reduce the chances of your dog being harmed.

#2 – Food and drink

While it’s always a good idea to keep human food and drinks away from your dog, the holidays are a perfect storm of circumstances for your pooch to nab something they shouldn’t. Ways to protect your dog include making sure your garbage can has a secure lid, keeping your dog away from the kitchen while preparing food, and cautioning your guests not to share.

Be sure to avoid these foods in particular:

  • Alcohol
  • Xylitol
  • Caffeine
  • Turkey Skin & Bones
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chocolate
  • Sweets
  • Stuffing
  • Spices
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • Walnuts and Macadamia Nuts

If there’s a chance any food or alcoholic beverages will be unattended at any point, it might be best to keep your dog in another room so they aren’t being forced to deny temptation.

#3 – People

Even the most dog-friendly guests can accidentally become a problem for your dog. Make sure house guests keep their medications secure in a place where your dog can’t ingest them. Let people know when it’s okay to interact with your dog and when it looks like he’s had enough.

Try to make sure your dog always has a quiet place they can go to escape from the hubbub if they’re feeling overwhelmed. Even the friendliest of dogs can be disturbed by having so many strangers in their home.

We at iHeartDogs hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday season!


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Written by Jennifer Nelson
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