The holidays are officially here! Over the next couple of weeks, everyone will be cooking classic holiday dishes, bringing over presents, and gathering around the dinner table to celebrate with family and friends. There is no doubt this is the most wonderful time of the year, but did you know it can also be a dangerous time for our four-legged family members? During the holidays, there are many different types of foods, holiday plants, and dazzling decor that are brought into the house to prepare for the holiday ahead. All of these things bring out the curiosity in our pets causing them to get into something potentially harmful and land them at the vet. Below you will find some helpful tips to keep your fur babies safe, happy, and healthy this holiday season!

Here are some helpful holiday food safety tips to keep in mind:

1.) It’s that time of year where anywhere you look there is chocolate! Although chocolate is safe for us humans, it can be harmful to your pets. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine. Specific chocolates like cocoa and dark chocolates contain the highest levels of theobromine, which can be very toxic to pets even when eaten in small amounts. While we can easily metabolize theobromine, pets cannot which results in the build-up of toxins in their system. If you believe your pet has ingested anything with chocolate in it, keep a close eye on them. Some symptoms may include, muscle tremors, irregular heartbeat, and even heart attack. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your delicious chocolate treats are pushed far back on the counter or covered so that your pet cannot reach them.

2.) Avoid giving your pet are any cooked turkey bones this holiday season. Although there is much debate on the safety of giving your dog’s real turkey bones, it is best you avoid giving them anything like this. Not only can these bones break your dog’s teeth, but they can also cause serious constipation or in some cases get stuck in your dog’s digestive tract. If a bone gets stuck, this can cause some serious blockages, inflammation of the pancreas, vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly surgery.

3.) One common food item often misunderstood as being dangerous for your pets are grapes and raisins. Be careful this holiday season as raisins are used in many different dishes and when consumed by dogs can cause sudden kidney failure. Keep an eye on your guests that may want to sneak your pet a quick snack under the table as they may not be aware of the potential risks these foods pose on your pets.

How to keep a safe and healthy environment for your pets:

4.) One of the most popular plants during the holidays are poinsettias. Although these beautiful red plants give your house that holiday look, they are toxic to your pets. The dangers of these plants are rarely ever fatal, but it is still a good idea to make sure they are placed somewhere where your pet cannot access them as they can cause vomiting, excessive drooling, and diarrhea. The same goes for the other common holiday plant, mistletoe. Another plant to avoid if you have pets are lilies. Lilies are dangerous to both dogs and cats, but they are deadly for cats. The stem, leaves, flowers and pollen, and the water in the vase are all extremely toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure within the first 24 hours of consumption. If you notice your cat has consumed any part of a lily or drank the water in the vase, contact your veterinarian immediately.

5.) The holidays call for all types of dangerous items for our pets such as the tinsel on your trees, hooks from ornaments, and the ribbon on your gifts. Cats especially love playing with the tinsel and swatting at the hanging ornaments from your trees. Of course, our pets think everything is a toy, so keep an eye on your pet to see if they show any interest in playing with these items as hooks and tinsel can cause serious intestinal injury in pets.

6.) The last tip to keep in mind when preparing for the holidays is to make sure you keep all candles and cords out of reach for your pets. If you have cats, you know they love to knock things over and if you have dogs, you know how powerful their tails can be. Be careful not to leave any candles in reach of your cat or dogs as they could knock them over and cause house fires. If you have cats or a new puppy, it is a good practice to hide or cover all visible power cords as cats and puppies especially love chewing on these. Chewing on cords can result in electrocution causing burns around the mouth, rapid heart rate, seizures, physical collapse, or even death.