How to Prevent Dog Emergencies During the Holidays

The holidays are supposed to be a time for fun, family, food, and good cheer. Because our dogs are part of our families, we often want to make sure they're included in the festivities. But some of the things we enjoy the most about the holiday season can be dangerous to Fido, so it's important to do some planning and preparation to keep your pet(s) safe. After all, nothing kills the holiday mood quite like a trip to the emergency veterinarian because of a dog (or cat!) emergency. 

Some of the most common dog emergencies are related to all the things we love about the holidays - special food, decorations, guests, etc. In addition to making sure you've prepared your home, be sure to have your emergency veterinarian’s phone number handy and know where the nearest emergency veterinary hospital is. 


Holiday Foods  

Whether your dog helps him/herself to the cookie or candy dish or someone slips him/her some table food, there are many opportunities for Fido to eat food that could prove dangerous. Let’s take the ever-popular turkey as an example.

You probably know that Fido should stay away from the cooked turkey bones - they splinter easily and can get stuck in the digestive tract. But did you also know that eating the skin, or, for some dogs, even the dark meat, can cause a dangerous condition called pancreatitis? It’s true.

The pancreas is responsible for producing insulin and digestive enzymes, but, when Fido eats certain fatty foods, it’s unable to digest them adequately, resulting in a dangerous (and painful) inflammation of the pancreas. According to the Pet Health Network, “Veterinarians see an increase in pancreatitis around the holidays since many people think a nice way to celebrate is to share their holiday meals with their dog. In addition, dogs that get into garbage are much more likely to develop pancreatitis, so be sure to keep your trash out of your dog’s reach!”

Other foods Fido should avoid include onions, raisins, unbaked bread dough, chocolate, some nuts (especially macadamias, walnuts, pecans and pistachios) and anything sweetened with xylitol.

Instead, get (or make!) special dog-safe treats for Fido so s/he can have something special when everyone else does!


Decorations and Pet-Proofing

Many people just don't feel like it's the holidays until the house is decorated. If you're one of those, it pays to be sure your decorations are safe for Fido! From twinkling lights to indoor trees and brightly wrapped gifts, the opportunities for Fido to potentially hurt him/herself are almost as limitless as those for cute photo-ops. And don't fool yourself - sometimes those opportunities are the same! In fact, just about everything we use to decorate can, potentially, hurt Fido (and s/he can definitely hurt the decorations!).

Before you decide to forgo decorating completely in the name of pet safety, though, consider your dog. Not all dogs are are interested in "helping" with the decor, and even those that are may not care about everything. However, if your dog does want to be an active part of the seasonal decorations, there are some steps you can take to keep both Fido and your decorations safe.

Often, the decorative focus is the Christmas Tree. Unsurprisingly, that's also usually the main source of Fido's problems! First, the tree can be knocked over. Ensuring the stand is sturdy (and, perhaps, elevated) and the tree is anchored, either to the ceiling or the wall, can help keep your tree upright. You can also put aluminum foil around the base to provide an alarm if Fido gets too close! If you have a live tree, the water in the stand can be toxic to your dog (as can other festive plants - check out this link to see the main culprits). Be sure you block Fido's access to the water. Your live tree can also pose a hazard as it loses its needles, which are sharp and can damage your dog's paws, mouth, and intestines (should they be digested). Ornaments and twinkly lights can also be problematic - both for the integrity of the decorations as well as for your dog's good health. It may be best to keep lights off the bottom of the tree to prevent chewing and fragile ornaments toward the top of the tree to prevent breakage!

For a good laugh (and possibly some very good ideas), check out these creative ways people have safeguarded their pets and decorations - or you can check out this one to see (some funny examples of) what can happen when pets are determined to have "fun" with Christmas.


The bottom line is this: you probably can't dog-proof your holiday too much! Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to make your holiday safe and fun for your best fur-friend. Of course, if an accident happens, we're here 24/7 for emergencies and regular business hours for advice and wellness visits! Do you need to schedule a vet visit for Fido? Give us a call or fill out our online form!

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