In 2019, 70% of pet owners bought a Christmas present for their pet. Millions of cat and dog stockings hung by the chimney with care can’t be wrong — households want to share the joy of the season with their pets. We love to see it! But veterinarians, like most medical professionals, spend holidays waiting for the emergency calls to roll in. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your holidays jolly!

Christmas Trees and the Dangers of Foreign Bodies

dog in reindeer ears

For households with dogs, Christmas trees can swiftly become twinkling disaster zones. The baubles and bright lights draw in curious pets, and unfortunately, ornaments can pose a serious threat to animals’ health.

Tinsel and pets are not a good mix. Tinsel is made out of foil, and if ingested, it can wreak havoc on a pet’s insides. It can also get wrapped around the base of the tongue, making it difficult or impossible to swallow normally. Ribbon, ornaments, and wrapping paper pose a similar risk. In addition to vomiting, owners should keep an eye out for symptoms like drooling, lip licking, and excessive head shaking.

Foreign bodies can get stuck in the digestive tract, causing a potentially serious obstruction. Often, radiographs (x-rays) are needed to look for signs of foreign bodies. It is possible for a foreign body to pass without causing an animal discomfort, but if a dog or cat is vomiting and exhibiting signs of illness, operating may be necessary. The good news: there is a high survival rate among animals who need an operation to remove a foreign body. But it’s still not how anyone wants to spend their Christmas Eve. 

Preservatives added to the base of a Christmas tree can cause serious gastrointestinal discomfort in animals. Even if there aren’t preservatives, standing water can develop bacteria that can make animals sick. 

No matter if it’s real or fake, lots of pets love to knock trees over. Be sure to make sure your tree is securely fastened to its base, and maybe leave the more delicate ornaments off the tree. 

Holiday Visitors and Pets

Holidays can be stressful for everyone! It can be a lot to get prepared for your guests while keeping your pets relaxed and comfortable. Even if your pets LOVE visitors, they are going to react to any changes in your household or routine.  

Here are a few tips to help make things a little easier:

  • Have a conversation with your guests—before they arrive at your home—about ground rules regarding your pets. For example, ask guests to not give your dog food without your permission or not to let your dog on the couch. 
  • If your pets aren’t used to children, make sure both the children and your pets know what you expect. Make sure your pets have a quiet space to go if they feel overwhelmed. 
  • If your pet gets very excited when guests enter, have your guests come in but not pay attention to your pet until they have some time to calm down and relax. 

If your visitors aren’t dog lovers… 

  • Create a safe, comfy place in your home where your dog can hang out while your visitors are here.Make sure that the guest bedroom is kept off limits to your dog.
  • It is a hard thing to talk about with family and friends, but if after creating a plan they still aren’t comfortable, then your house may not be the best place to stay. If you are willing, you could also consider boarding your dog or having them stay with a friend during the visit. 


Traveling for the Holidays?

Dogs spending the holidays in a kennel can receive a vaccine that will lessen their symptoms if they get kennel cough. They can also get a vaccine for canine influenza, and they’ll need to be up-to-date for all their other shots. Dogs should also prepare for a kennel stay with a lot of time in their crate, to get used to it. 

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