Holiday Safety Tips from Dr. Zetwo

By Dr. Amanda Zetwo, Medical Director of Clinic and Community Services

Due to the pandemic the CDC recommends not gathering with extended family and friends that don’t live in your immediate home for the holidays this year. But, this could actually help keep your pets a little bit safer this holiday season!

Every year, veterinarians see several common pet emergencies around the holidays. Friends or family coming into town may want to bring their pet to your home, but if they aren’t a familiar four-legged friend for your pet, fights can ensue resulting in injuries. You aren’t the only one who loves your pet – friends and family may mean well by spoiling them with some trimmings from the table. But, this can lead to many issues including vomiting, diarrhea or even more serious conditions such as pancreatitis or a foreign body ingestion (like a bone) that could require hospitalization or surgery. Some relatives may need to bring prescription medications with them when they come to visit. Be sure that curious noses and paws don’t find fun with a noisy pill bottle because this could turn into a life-threatening emergency.

If you’re staying home this holiday season, here are some friendly reminders to help keep your pets safe:

  • No table scraps – especially no meat skin, bones, fat or trimmings. Pork is especially bad as it’s high in salt and fat, but turkey also keeps veterinarians busy for days after the holiday.
  • Avoid other common toxins in the kitchen including:
    • Onions and garlic
    • Raisins, grapes and grape jelly
    • Chocolate, coffee and tea
    • Macadamia nuts
    • Raw dough and yeast bread dough
    • Sugar-free substitute xylitol, common in sugar free gum or some peanut butters

If your pet has ingested any of these toxins or if you have any other questions, please call the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435. Write down your case number and if you need to go to your primary care veterinarian, call them to let them know you are on your way and relay the case number you were given.

Though your veterinarian may not be able to help with your anxiety this holiday season, they can help your pet who may have anxiety, noise phobia or other issues. You can also help your pet by providing a calm, quiet room with enrichment items such as a Kong stuffed with treats and frozen peanut butter (not sweetened with xylitol, of course!), puzzle feeder balls, and new toys. Consider purchasing some pet pheromone items such as a diffuser for cats or a collar for dogs to help your pets feel at ease.

The holidays can be stressful on everyone – especially this year when things are anything but normal. But, with these safety reminders and helpful tips in mind you and your pets can still enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.

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