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Fur Times | April 8, 2020

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Holiday Safety for Pets

Holiday Safety for Pets
Francisco DiPolo, DVM, CVA

The holiday season—or, what we consider late October through early January—is once more upon us. But before you break out the candy, turkey, champagne, or whatever else you have the tendency to overindulge in, keep in mind this season can hold some danger for your pets.


Here are some tips to enjoy the holidays while keeping your pet safe—and avoid being interrupted by a visit to the emergency hospital.


  • Keep the Halloween candy safely out of your pet’s reach. Chocolate is toxic for dogs, and xylitol, a common artificial sweetener found in gums, candy and some baked items is very toxic as well. If consumed, candy wrappers can create dangerous obstructions of the gastrointestinal tract. When you’re not consuming Halloween goodies, don’t leave them out in a dish on the counter or a table, as pets have a tendency to get curious, and hungry. Store candy safely in a Ziplock bag in a cabinet out of your animal’s reach. If your pet does eat some candy, try to determine how much was eaten, and call your vet immediately.
  • The continuous ringing of the doorbell, heralding the arrival trick-or-treaters, is very stressful to many dogs and cats. Consider keeping your pets safely in a quieter part of your house or apartment to minimize their anxiety.
  • If you’re taking your dog trick-or-treating, be sure to do the following:
  1. Keep identification tags on your pet at all times.
  2. Keep your dog on a leash.
  3. Consider applying reflector strips or an LED pet safety light to your animal, so he is visible to passing cars.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa

  • Rich, fatty food—which is all too common during holiday celebrations—can be treacherous for pets. In some cases, even a small amount of a fatty food can lead to severe digestive problems or inflammation of the pancreas. This can rapidly become an emergency. Even if your dog is desperate to share your holiday meals, stick with normal pet food, or healthy treats such carrots.
  • Many rich alcoholic beverages such as eggnog can be tempting to dogs. Alcohol is toxic to pets, so anything containing alcohol is a no-no.
  • As a general rule, the following are all toxic to pets: grapes, raisins, chocolate, onions and artificial sweeteners such as xylitol.
  • Many different plants are poisonous to animals, poinsettia and holly included. For a complete list, check out the following link:
  • Christmas trees are irresistible to most pets. If you add any preservatives to the tree water, make sure that your pet can’t drink it. Glittering tinsel, ornaments, ribbons, etc. are very enticing to cats and some dogs, and they can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction if ingested. Edible gifts or pet gifts can be detected by your dog’s amplified sense of smell; so, be aware that your pet may unwrap gifts without your approval, and even worse, ingest the wrapping. Lastly, be warned that the allure of climbing a Christmas tree has caused more than one cat to bring the entire tree crashing down.

Ultimately, the holidays are for the joy of the entire family, including pets. If you maintain a basic awareness of the possible dangers, you can easily avoid any unexpected complications. If you have any further questions, feel free to give us a call at Worth Street Veterinary Center at 212-257-6900.

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