Keep Pets Safe During the Holidays

This article appeared in the Dec. 18, 2018, issue of the student newsletter.

No bones about it — holiday foods (like turkey) and decorations (like tinsel) can hurt pets at home. Dr. Jean Eye, veterinarian and onsite faculty coordinator for the Cedar Valley College veterinary technology program, has some tips for keeping the holidays fun for pets and their human families. 

“Cats are fascinated by Christmas trees and decorations. Dogs are more interested in the foods you cook during the holidays,” says Eye, who has worked mostly in small animal practices. “By taking some simple steps, you can keep your pets safe and happy during the holidays.” 

Dr. Eye, who has experience in veterinary emergency medicine, suggests following these safety tips for pets: 

  • A climbing kitty can knock over a tree. If possible, when you aren't home, keep cats out of the room where your Christmas tree sits. If that's not possible, use a loop of fishing line around the tree trunk so that you can secure the tree to a screw eye bolt on the wall.

  • Cats also love to play with string, but they can swallow strands of tinsel or yarn, blocking their intestines. Avoid tinsel, and choose ornaments that don't break easily.

  • Dogs, who are more interested in the food you are preparing for your holiday feast, can eat a few bites of turkey as a treat. However, don't let your dog have the bones left at the end of the meal. Bones can easily splinter as your dog chews on them.

  • Holiday bakers must also take care to keep chocolate out of their dog's reach. All types of chocolate are potentially toxic for dogs, but baking chocolate has a much higher concentration of methylxanthines that cause problems for them. 

Finally, Dr. Eye adds, “Be sure to contact a veterinarian right away if your pet has any health problems. Even if your regular veterinary hospital is closed for the holidays, emergency facilities are open that can provide veterinary care for your pet if the need arises.” 

Happy holidays with your pets!