While your pet may have made it through Halloween and Thanksgiving unscathed, the final holidays of the season are approaching, with plenty of opportunity still for mischief and mayhem—and a potential emergency. To keep your furry pal out of trouble, and your family out of our emergency hospital, heed the words of warning in our song, “12 Days of Pet Holiday Hazards.”
On the first day of Christmas: A kitten in a Christmas tree
Kittens are known for their frisky personalities, and nothing is more adorable than a tiny cat wrestling under the tree with ribbon or tinsel as you wrap gifts. However, cats are prone to a particular type of gastrointestinal obstruction, known as a linear foreign body. Since cats enjoy nibbling on ribbon, yarn, thread, tinsel, and other strings, they can easily swallow these items, which can wrap around the tongue’s base and become bunched in the intestinal tract. Because the ribbon cannot pass through the intestines safely, an accordion-like effect is created. As intestinal motility tries to move the string or ribbon along, they can actually saw right through the intestines, leading to a potentially fatal infection called sepsis.
On the second day of Christmas: Two beagles begging
Chocolate, xylitol, and nuts, which are often found on holiday dessert tables, can all lead to toxicity cases or gastrointestinal issues. Despite those begging eyes from sweet-toothed pets, avoid sharing any desserts—except a dollop of plain whipped cream—with your pet.
On the third day of Christmas: Three healthy Labs
While you should spoil your pet on special occasions, don’t overdo it. Stick to healthy holiday treats, like boneless, skinless turkey, plain sweet potatoes, or fresh green beans. Your pet will still be excited to receive “people food,” and you still get to shower your furry pal with love and treats.
On the fourth day of Christmas: Four feisty cats
Some of the most beautiful Christmas ornaments are extremely delicate, and will shatter when falling to the floor. Your pet may brush against a branch, or your feisty cat may dart through the tree, batting at ornaments and wreaking havoc on your beautifully decorated creation. If your pets can’t stay away from the tree, use shatterproof or fabric ornaments.
On the fifth day of Christmas: Five chewing pups
To add a holiday decor spark, you likely have wires and cords running everywhere in your home. Curious pets may chew on light strands or extension cords, shocking them, or causing an electrical burn. Purchase cord and plug covers to help keep your decorations and your pet safe from harm.
On the sixth day of Christmas: Six Danes a-surfing
Delicious smells wafting from your kitchen will draw in your drooling pet. Too many paws in the kitchen can lead to bad news, as raw foods and ingredients can be toxic for your pet. Unbaked yeast dough, garlic, onions, chives, leeks, and raisins can cause life-threatening situations, not to mention the danger of having a pet underfoot while you remove hot dishes from the oven. Keep your pet locked out of the kitchen until you’ve cleaned up any potential food toxicities to prevent counter-surfing.
On the seventh day of Christmas: Seven cats a-stressing
Cats are highly sensitive to stress, and nothing is more stressful for an anxious cat than a houseful of strangers. Stress can cause numerous medical conditions, with feline idiopathic cystitis, which can rapidly lead to a urinary obstruction, one of the most dangerous. If your cat is prone to urinary issues, with flares associated with stress, create a safe, relaxing haven for them with a cozy bed, soothing pheromones, calming music, and a distracting food puzzle.
On the eighth day of Christmas: Eight dogs a-dashing
As guests come and go, your door may remain open and unattended, and your pet may seize their chance for adventure. With distracted drivers rushing to and from holiday gatherings, your pet may become a car accident victim as they dart into the road. Keep your pet securely confined as you welcome or say goodbye to guests, and ensure their collar ID tag and microchip registration information is up to date.
On the ninth day of Christmas: Nine pets imbibing
New Year’s Eve is often liquor-laden, and pets may slurp down unattended cocktails. But, alcohol poisoning is a real threat for cats and dogs, as with people, and although they like the taste, their small bodies cannot metabolize alcohol well. Instruct your guests to hold on to their drinks, or pour them down the sink, to avoid an alcohol-fueled pet disaster.
On the tenth day of Christmas: Ten hounds a-hunting
A pet with a nose for sniffing out their own gifts can get into serious trouble if they devour the wrapping and ribbon to get to their treat. If your pet is naughty and will hunt for their own gifts before the big day, block access to the tree and the presents. Pets may not be discerning, and may rip through any gift, potentially ingesting small toys, batteries, and other inedible objects.
On the eleventh day of Christmas: Eleven canines cowering
Fireworks and other loud noise makers that are often part of New Year’s Eve celebrations can send many pets into a panic. If your pet develops crippling anxiety during thunderstorms or fireworks, contact your family veterinarian in advance for advice about anti-anxiety options.
On the twelfth day of Christmas: Twelve dachshunds diving
If you’re sick of your Christmas ham and Grandma’s fruitcake and they end up in the trash, securely close the lid to keep dumpster-diving pets out of trouble. Many leftovers are tossed out, and pets will eagerly gulp down foods high in fat or sugar, bones, turkey skin, foil, and spoiled foods. Pancreatitis or a gastrointestinal obstruction can develop if your pet roots through the garbage for an unauthorized holiday treat, so lock up your leftovers.
If your furry pal gets into mischief over the holiday season and ends up starring in one of the 12 Days of Pet Holiday Hazards, contact your Animal Emergency Hospital and Urgent Care team for emergency help.