- Hide the Halloween candy — Trick-or-treat sweets can be a tempting danger to your pet. Containing both theobromine and caffeine, chocolate is particularly toxic. Dark chocolate contains a higher concentration of these ingredients than milk chocolate, so it is more likely to cause toxicity. Chocolate ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, cardiac arrhythmias, and even death if enough is eaten.
- Provide a safe spot during trick-or-treat — Scary costumes, boisterous kids, and a constantly ringing doorbell can be downright scary for pets. You pet’s fight-or-flight response might prompt her to flee through an open door amidst the chaos. Instead of dressing your pet in an uncomfortable costume or expecting her to greet the never-ending line of trick-or-treaters, let her relax in a room away from the noise with some favorite toys, blankets, and treats.
- Microchip your pet — With houseguests in and out, the holiday season is a common time for pets to run away, and pets with microchips are much more likely to be reunited with their families. Microchip implantation is a fast, simple procedure that can be performed during a normal office visit. Once a microchip is in place, your dog or cat will have permanent identification that can’t be lost, even if she slips out of her collar.
- Keep black cats inside — Superstitions abound about black cats, and they, unfortunately, become a target during the Halloween season. Pranks involving black cats—and all animals for that matter—happen every Halloween. Do not let your pet outside unsupervised during this time of year.
- Stay away from turkey trimmings — Even though your pup may beg at your feet as you clean up after the turkey dinner, slipping her the fatty trimmings is a recipe for disaster. Fatty foods can cause the pancreas, which is responsible for producing enzymes that break down fat, to become inflamed. Pancreatitis causes severe vomiting, abdominal pain, and dehydration.
Poultry bones also pose a significant risk, as they can get caught in the throat or splinter into sharp pieces that can puncture the gastrointestinal tract. Although it is best to stay away from table scraps, a bite or two of lean turkey meat is much safer for your pet than fat and bones.
- Don’t share your ham dinner — Ham is also a popular holiday dish, and many people want to share some of the savory meat or the bone with their pets. High levels of fat and salt in ham can cause severe gastrointestinal illness or pancreatitis. Hambones are also dangerous—they easily crumble into pieces that can lodge in the intestines.
- Keep holiday plants out of reach — Mistletoe, holly, and lilies are all popular holiday adornments. Although they add cheer to your home, they are also toxic to pets.
- Ingestion of mistletoe leaves or berries can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, seizures, and death.
- The spiny leaves of the holly plant irritate the mouth and stomach, causing excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Lilies are known to cause life-threatening acute kidney failure.
- Poinsettias cause only mild irritation to the gastrointestinal tract.
Cats, in particular, like to chew on roughage and may ingest these poisonous plants. If you cannot keep fresh arrangements out of reach, it’s safest to keep them out of your home.
- Tuck electric cords away — Cords used for tree lights and decorations can be chewed on by curious pups or kittens, and the exposed wiring can cause a fire. If the rubber coating is punctured, your pet may experience electrical burns or even electrocution. For everyone’s safety, keep cords tucked safely out of view.
- Skip the tinsel — Although not as popular as it once was, some people still enjoy the shimmer that tinsel adds to the Christmas tree. The problem is that pets—cats especially—are drawn to these sparkly strands and can’t seem to resist chewing on them. If eaten, these string-like pieces can cause serious problems in your feline friend’s intestines.
- Clean up the Christmas morning mess — The wrapping paper, packaging, and tiny toy remnants that litter the floor on Christmas morning can quickly be gobbled up by an inquisitive pet. These foreign objects can cause gastrointestinal distress or, even worse, get lodged in the stomach or intestines. Keep a close eye on your pet during gift-opening time, and clean up all paper and debris immediately after.