My dog ate what? Tips to keep your pets safe during the holidays

By Berry Craig, Building Kentucky

Let’s face it, the holidays are hectic. Last-minute shopping, traveling, and hosting family and friends can keep us more than busy. The added stress on humans can also mean added stress on our pets.

When the holidays arise, vets often see a rise in urgent visits from dogs and cats who got into some human party food or who mistook holiday decorations for a mid-day snack. These are called “ingestions” – and the ill effects can range from mild nausea to surgery or even death.

A MetLife Pet Insurance survey found that more than 50 percent reported their pets have eaten something they shouldn’t. In most cases, the owners reported no serious illnesses, but nearly 14 percent had made emergency runs to the doctor.

“My dog ate a whole frog in one gulp,” said one of the people surveyed. “There were no side effects felt by my pup – just shocked us!”

Unusual items eaten by pets

  • Live gecko
  • Fried chicken – bones and all
  • Mussels – shell and all – on the beach
  • Brillo pad
  • Handkerchief
  • Underwear
  • Starbucks mocha
  • Bicycle pedal strap
  • Cardboard
  • Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
  • Cardboard
  • Bowl of Hershey Kisses- including foil
  • Bottle cap
  • Toilet paper
  • Acorn (This resulted in surgery.)
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Ice cream
  • Vinyl siding
  • Melatonin
  • Whole head of cauliflower
  • Roofing nails
  • Sticks of butter

Tips to keep your pets safe

When it comes to keeping our pets safe during the holidays, experts say these four tips are helpful to avoid an unexpected trip to the vet.

1. Alert guests to not feed your pets people food

As we welcome people into our homes it is important to be mindful of how visitors interact with our pets. If your pet is social and enjoys being around the guests in your home, experts recommend pet owners set clear boundaries. Allowing guests to feed your pets could create bad behavior, such as pets begging or whining for food. It can be very difficult to break these behaviors, so it is best to never start them in the first place. Additionally, this could lead to your pets eating more food than normal resulting in diarrhea or vomiting.

2. Secure your Christmas tree to prevent it from falling over

A toppled over tree can make a great scene in a holiday movie, but in real life it’s not very fun. Anchoring your Christmas tree with fishing line and something heavy can prevent this holiday headache. Also, experts urge pet owners to be mindful of electrical cords around trees. A best practice is to cover cords with a tree skirt or hide them with decorative packages.

3. Keep holiday decorations out of reach from pets

Garland, bells, ornaments, and candles can make a home feel perfectly cozy for Christmas, but all can pose a danger to our pets. A recent viral video shows a cat’s tail catching on fire from touching a lit candle. Experts say it is best to put decorations out of paws reach. Those include bows and ribbons, lights, mistletoe, and potpourri.

4. Plan a safe space for pets during the holidays

Not all of our furry friends are excited about company during the holidays. If your pet is shy and anxious when you have guests, experts recommend providing them a private space away from people, such as a kennel, crate, perching place, scratching post shelf or hiding place. If your pet is excitable or scared, consider putting your pet in another room with some toys and a comfortable bed.

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