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Chula Vista, CA 91915

As your family members—two- and four-legged—gather around the fire on Christmas Eve, the time-honored tale, “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” sets the tone for a perfect evening. However, pets can make a peaceful holiday more a Christmas wish than reality. Our Otay Pet Vets team can’t help but look at the holiday—Christmas stories included— through a veterinary lens, and this classic reminds us of all the holiday hazards waiting to befall curious pets. 

Mischievous pet behavior

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse

This idyllic scene is less than likely in a household with mischievous pets. Stirring—and much naughtier behavior—can lead to a number of pet emergencies. While you rest comfortably, or are preoccupied during the holiday hubbub, your pet may take the opportunity to get into trouble. To prevent an unexpected trip to Otay Pet Vets, watch for the following holiday hazards:

  • Christmas tree — The center of your holiday decor can pose a risk to your pet if the tree topples over, or your pet drinks water from the tree stand. Low-hanging, breakable ornaments are no match for your cat’s paws, or your rambunctious puppy, and can cut their paws if they shatter. Tinsel and garland are tempting to cats, who may develop a dangerous gastrointestinal (GI) blockage if they eat the shiny strands. If your pet is too curious for their own good, use gates to keep them away from the tree, if you cannot supervise their activity.
  • Holiday plants — Many holiday favorites, including mistletoe, pine, amaryllis, and holly, are toxic to pets. Lilies are highly toxic to cats, who can develop fatal kidney failure from simply licking the pollen, or drinking water from the vase.
  • Open doors — Endless Amazon deliveries and holiday guests can create opportunities for your pet to slip outside unnoticed. Keep pets safely confined during comings and goings, and ensure their identification tags and microchip information is up to date. 

Stocking stuffers, hazardous decorations, and pets

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there

Stockings can be stuffed with a number of holiday hazards, from chocolate treats to small toys, that can endanger your curious pet. And, the plateful of cookies for Santa is a disaster in the making. Look around your decorated house, to see if your pet can get their paws on any of these hazards:

  • Chocolate — Dark baking chocolate and cocoa powder contain the highest toxin concentration, but all chocolate is toxic if enough is ingested. 
  • Sugar-free gum and candy — Many sugar-free and keto-friendly sweets contain xylitol, which can cause a dramatic drop in blood sugar, and acute liver toxicity.
  • Small toys — Small figurines, bouncy balls, and other stocking stuffers can cause an intestinal obstruction, if swallowed.
  • Electric cords — Your glowing holiday village can shock your pet, if they chew on the cord. Cats often play with light strands, and can become dangerously tangled.
  • Candles — Candles and pets do not mix. A wagging tail or frisky swipe can cause a burn, or start a house fire.

Dangerous holiday foods for pets

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads

Your kids aren’t the only ones dreaming of holiday foods. Your pet has been watching—and drooling—while you cook, bake, and prepare for the big meal. But, many holiday foods can lead to a pet emergency, including:

  • Turkey — From the salty brine, to the greasy skin, to splintering bones, your buffet centerpiece poses a number of risks to your pet. If you can’t resist your pet’s pleading eyes, give them only a few bites of plain, skinless turkey breast.
  • Ham — Ham’s high salt and fat content can cause GI problems ranging from vomiting and diarrhea, to life-threatening pancreatitis.
  • Savory ingredients — All the Allium family members, including garlic, onions, chives, and shallots, are toxic to pets. Don’t share dishes that contain these ingredients in any form—raw, cooked, dehydrated, powdered, or otherwise.
  • Grapes and raisins — An unknown toxin in grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure in dogs who eat only a few.
  • Macadamia nuts — Keep your famous white chocolate macadamia nut cookies out of your pet’s reach, as macadamia nuts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and other serious problems. 

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Hopefully, your pet’s antics will alert you before they get into real trouble. However, if your pet steals sugar-free gum from a stocking, or chews on your holiday centerpiece, Otay Pet Vets is here to help—contact us. Happy holidays!

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”