The holiday season is a favorite time of year for many who transform their homes with festive decorations, bake winter treats, and open their doors to guests. Because these traditions introduce new variables into their furry friend’s environment, pet owners should be aware of any potential hazards that might arise.
Dr. Lori Teller, an associate professor in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, says that owners adding a floral touch to their holiday decorations should be mindful of which plants they select. Lilies, European mistletoe, amaryllis bulbs, and pine needles can all cause serious health complications if consumed.
“In general, they can cause oral irritation and may cause your pet to salivate and drool. Excessive quantities can lead to gastrointestinal upset,” Teller said. “It is a myth that poinsettias are toxic to pets.”
Other holiday decorations pet owners should avoid include candles, which may burn pets or cause a serious fire if knocked over, and liquid potpourri, which is extremely toxic to cats. If your pet is a curious climber, consider anchoring your Christmas tree to a wall or ceiling to avoid falling and sharp broken ornaments.
When opening gifts, keep in mind that batteries are toxic to pets and should be kept out of reach. Any decorative elements containing string, such as ribbons or tinsel, may also cause an obstruction if ingested.
“Ornaments made from food, like popcorn balls, can also be a source of danger. Hang these ornaments well out of reach,” Teller said. “When putting presents under the tree or around the fireplace, make sure that any gift-wrapped food items are out of reach.”
Chocolate, especially dark and baking chocolates; raisins; bones; alcohol; and fatty foods can all cause serious issues. Macadamia nuts can cause neurologic problems in pets as well. Anything that contains xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in many foods from gum to peanut butter, is toxic to dogs, leading to acute liver failure and death if not treated immediately.
“Normally, raw dough is a seasonal problem during the holidays, but this year there has been an exponential increase in the number of yeast and dough intoxications because so many people have been perfecting their baking skills during the pandemic,” Teller said. “Don’t stop baking your delicious goodies—just keep the raw versions away from your pets!”
“If your pet enjoys a good get-together, make sure to keep it away from doors that are frequently opened so that you don’t have to worry about your pet getting loose in all of the excitement,” Teller said. “