From Turkeys To Trees—Avoid These Pet Hazards

cat-1207460_960_720Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s holiday time again! For our pets, all the sparkles, sweets, and gifts are like one big buffet of curious sights and smells to explore. But unfortunately, some of our common celebration staples are potentially dangerous to our pets. Here’s what to know to make sure your holiday season stays happy and healthy for your furry friends:

All That Glitters & Sparkles

This is the season that many of us break out the boxes and display our collection of decorations and ornaments. This is also the season that most vets can tell stories about when they had to surgically remove bows, tinsel strands, wrappers, or the plastic bits of low hanging ornaments from the intestinal tracts of dogs and cats. If your pet is prone to chew, keep the temptations out of reach.

This also goes for Christmas morning, when the wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons go flying. While it’s amusing to watch our pets pounce and play with the wrappings, it can also quickly become alarming when your dog or cat starts heaving or vomiting.  

Likewise, block your pet’s access to the electrical cords of lights you string on the tree or around the house. Pets that chew on electrical cords can get shocked, so if you can’t easily hide or block the cords then consider coating them with bitter apple spray. Always be sure to unplug lights when you’re not home, and secure the tree to a wall or the ceiling if you have a pet that’s prone to jump or climb on the tree.

All Things Tasty

No doubt your dog is going to be lured by the smells of the feast, and while it may be tempting to toss him a bone or share some scraps under the table, this could do more harm than good.

Ham or turkey bones can get lodged in your pet’s throat and cause choking, and you certainly don’t want to spend part of your holiday in the emergency vet clinic. In addition, if your kitchen trash can is accessible to your pet, he may be tempted to dig into it if he smells there are turkey bones or skins that have been thrown away. Secure these scraps in bags and trash cans that aren’t accessible to your dog.

A large dose of fatty food like turkey skin and gravy can also cause acute inflammation of the pancreas, especially in certain breeds like miniature poodles, miniature schnauzers, and cocker spaniels. Too much fatty food over time can also lead to chronic pancreatitis, particularly in older or overweight dogs. If you really want to share some of your holiday feast with your pet, cut up a small portion of meat into bite-size pieces. That alone will be a real treat for your pet.

While no pet owner would willingly give their pet alcohol, it’s sadly not uncommon for vets to see the dire effects when a pet is able to lap up eggnog, wine, or champagne that’s left sitting out. Both cats and dogs are extremely sensitive to alcohol, and even small amounts can lead to seizures, liver and kidney damage, coma. and death. Keep all adult libations out of reach of pets, and remind your guests, too.

As we’ve discussed, chocolate is toxic to pets, and the darker the chocolate, the more toxic. Dark, baking or cooking chocolate contains up to six times the toxicity of regular milk chocolate. Small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but large amounts can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias. Keep chocolate cookies and candies under cover or out of reach of your pets. If they do manage to snatch some morsels, call your vet with the type and amount of chocolate your pet likely ingested.  

With planning, your holiday can be merry and bright while also remaining hazard-free for your pet. It’s just another wise step in proactive, preventative care for your beloved pets, which is what we’re all about at the PetWellClinics® of Knoxville and Alcoa.

By operating convenient hours for non-surgical care, PetWellClinic® is able to offer substantially discounted prices for safe flea and tick preventative products, vaccinations, wellness exams, and treatment of minor conditions—with quick in-and-out service during convenient evening and weekend hours and no appointment necessary.

PetWellClinic® has three locations: 10549 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37922; 7329 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919; and 228 S. Calderwood Street, Alcoa,TN 37701. Learn more about how PetWellClinic® can exceed your expectations for affordable, top quality pet care by visiting our website at

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