• Cierra Voelkl

Keeping Pets Safe Throughout The Holiday Season

Updated: Dec 7, 2020



While a few people intend to adjust how they commend the special seasons during the pandemic, many want to proceed with customs and keep a feeling of regularity. Indeed, even with festivities changed, many still present dangers for family pets.


Dr. John Buchweitz, top of the toxicology department of Michigan State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, or (VDL), sees the negative results of pets being presented to substances that cause injury, sickness, or to top it all off, death. Buchweitz says that these occasions will in general increment during the special seasons.


“Pet owners should keep in mind that toxic effects depend on the substance, dose, and size of the animal. The dose makes the poison,” said Buchweitz. “Right now, many of us are cleaning and sanitizing our homes more often than we might normally. And with cold weather coming, some people may be having issues with rodents or other pests trying to move inside. Chemicals found in cleaning products, household solvents, pesticides, and rodenticides pose an obvious danger to curious pets.”

These objects may be known to owners to keep away from pets, but other items aren't so apparent. Many foods and medicines safe for humans are harmful to animals. It is because certain chemicals are processed differently from people by animals.


Five-holiday hazards to avoid:

1. Food and treats: Holidays always mean treats, but we enjoy a variety of items that are harmful to pets all year round. On any occasion, pets should not consume grapes and raisins, onions and garlic, macadamia nuts, chocolate, and foods containing an artificial sweetener, xylitol.

2. Plants and flowers: Poinsettia plants have a poor reputation but are only mildly toxic. Pet owners should be more vigilant about lilies, mistletoe, and holly.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com/kitsa_sakurako

3. Alcohol can affect animals very rapidly and can cause harmful drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature, as well as seizures and respiratory failure. Beer, wine, and cocktails:

4. Cold weather driving dangers: Antifreeze and windshield de-icing substances, as well as engine oils, brake fluids and other solvents, frequently contain alcohol that is especially hazardous to animals. As little as a tablespoon in dogs can cause serious acute kidney failure, and as little as a teaspoon in cats can be fatal.

5. Medicines and drugs: Keep all human medicines out of the hands of pets in a safe manner. The pills should not be loose, in a plastic zip-top bag since they are too easy to chew.  Drugs – and purses or bags containing them – should not be accessible to pets. Medicines such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen are widely used in households, but it can be very dangerous to pets with only one or two tablets. Other medications used for the treatment of depression, ADD/ADHD, and high blood pressure (beta-blockers in particular) can also be very harmful to pets. Human drugs are involved in nearly 50 percent of all pet poisonings.


A specific note should be made of legalizing medicinal and recreational marijuana. Cats, dogs and horses are toxic to marijuana. In particular, the psychoactive compound THC, which is high in marijuana, is dangerous for animals. Products with higher THC levels (eating agents, extracts) are particularly harmful and are more vulnerable to poisoning.


What to do if your pet may have eaten something dangerous?

If a pet has a known or suspected toxin exposure, call the pet poison hotline and/or seek veterinary emergency treatment. Make sure you tell the veterinarian whether you know what the pet eats or was subjected to. You can even bring it with you.


Be frank with the veterinarian, if a pet is exposed to marijuana or other narcotics. Physicians, technicians, and staff in the veterinary clinic are worried about animal welfare. Being transparent and frank helps them ensure the best and best possible care and prevent unnecessary testing or procedures as soon as possible. 


If you suspect they have injested a poisonous substance, contact the ASPCA poison control hotline at (888) 426-4435. See the APCC’s Veterinary Resources page for more information.


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