Holiday Pet Safety Tips

The holiday season means we bring in a lot of things into our homes that we don't always have throughout the year. And we travel long distances which means making the decision to travel with pets or leave them at home. Some holiday decorating items are toxic to pets and you want to exercise caution when traveling with them. Here are some pet safety tips to help you avoid making an emergency visit to the vet over the holidays.

Toxic Plants for Cats and Dogs

Cats and dogs are susceptible to many of the same holiday decorations and plants, but cats can be more sensitive than dogs. Holly and mistletoe are very poisonous to dogs and cats while lilies and daffodils are especially toxic to cats. Amaryllis is highly toxic for both cats and dogs. However, needles from the Christmas tree and nibbles off the Christmas cactus are mild irritants for both species. It's still a good idea to keep tree needles vacuumed to avoid ingestion as the needles can cause punctures in the mouth and digestive system.

Poinsettia, long thought to be toxic to dogs and cats, is safe to bring into the home. A curious pet may get their mouth irritated by the sap if they chew for too long on the plant, but they are otherwise in no serious danger if they nibble on a leaf or branch.

Dangerous Foods

Chocolate is a popular delight during the holidays, but it's not good for dogs and cats to eat. While cats are less likely to ingest chocolate due to their lack of taste buds for sweet things, the risk of consumption is always there. Dogs are more likely to ingest chocolate so keep a close eye out when baking with chocolate or putting chocolate treats out for guests.

Grapes, currants and raisins are toxic to dogs and consumption can result in kidney failure. The toxin that makes animals sick is still unknown and a dog can become severely ill on the smallest amount.

Onions and garlic are toxic to cats and can cause anemia in small quantities. Larger amounts can cause onion poisoning.

Xylitol is a sugar substitute that's used in many sugar-free candies, chewing gum, energy bars and other sugar-free foods. It's very toxic to dogs and can result in liver toxicity and low blood sugar in dogs.

Traveling Safely

Make sure it's okay to bring your pet with to a relative's home before figuring how to travel with your pet. Once you get the green light, you want to look for carriers and harnesses that work with car seatbelts or can be connected to the seat in a restraining fashion.

It doesn't take a lot of work to keep your pet safe during the holidays, just extra vigilance. If you don't want to run the risk of accidental ingestion or an accident, don't bring the plants or food into the home and leave your pets with a kennel or pet sitter.

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