Pet Tips for a Fun, Safe Holiday Season


By Michelle Sathe
Signal Staff Writer

The holidays are upon us, and for many, that means decorating the home and preparing lavish feasts. While many members of the family will appreciate your efforts, don’t forget to protect those with four paws from some of the dangers that the season can bring.

For the most part, that means keeping pets from the festive plants and tasty foods that we humans enjoy so much.

“Pets can get into the trash or hang around the kitchen and consume things that usually lead to gastrointestinal upset,” said Dr. Evelyn Vega, veterinarian and owner of Happy Pets Veterinary Center in Valencia.

Symptoms of gastrointestinal upset include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite and gas, while pancreatitis can include those symptoms as well as pain in the mid abdomen, lack of appetite, and lethargy.

If any of those symptoms last longer than 24-48 hours, Vega recommends bringing your pet to the veterinarian.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” she said. “A pet vomiting can be something as simple as gastritis, to something life threatening such as pancreatitis or a foreign body obstruction.”

Of course, preventing such situations from occurring is ideal. According to Vega, here are food items that should never be given to pets:

Any fatty or spicy leftovers (For example, turkey or turkey skin can cause pancreatitis in both dogs and cats.)

Bones of any kind, which can cause obstructions in both dogs and cats

Artificial sweeteners found in sweets, such as Xylitol, which can cause liver failure in dogs

Chocolate, raisins and grapes (which are common in baking goods during the holidays and toxic to pets)

Unattended alcoholic drinks. Pets can get to them, which can cause health issues if your pet has too much

Yeast dough, which can cause bloating if a large enough amount is ingested by dogs.

To be extra safe, keep trash in an area where your pet can not get to it, whether that’s inside or outside (especially after a dinner party where leftovers are thrown away).

Plants can also be very dangerous. Holly and mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. That’s why Vega recommends not keeping any of those plants in the home during the holidays.

Other safety tips Vega suggested:

Avoid using tinsel, which can be swallowed, or traditional candles, which can be knocked over and start a fire. Try electric candles instead.

Hide or cover electrical wires to avoid your pet getting shocked.

Do not use tree ornaments that can be swallowed or broken, such as those made of glass or homemade ornaments constructed from salt dough.

If you buy a live tree, do not add aspirin to the water to keep the tree fresh. Aspirin is toxic and can cause GI ulcers or bleeding in both dogs and cats

Ask your guests to keep all their medications in a safe place and to immediately pick up any pills that are accidently dropped to avoid ingestion by pets.

On New Year’s Eve, some people set off fireworks that can scare pets, so make sure they are enclosed in a room with the TV or radio on to drown out noise and commotion.

Finally, on a holiday, or any day, inform your guests know not to leave any doors open where your dog or cat may be tempted to run out. Just in case, make sure your pet has current ID tag and that the information on his or her microchip is up to date.

If for some reason your pet does get out, immediately go to your local shelter and post photos/information on local pet “lost and found” social media pages.

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