The holidays are a festive, joyous time for both people and their pets. The bright lights, festive decorations, good food, and holiday spirit are intoxicating – and it is easy to get caught up in all the merriment.

Even if you are having a cozy celebration with your immediate family this year, you still need to have your guard up to help keep your pet safe during all of the excitement.

Here are some common holiday pet emergencies and how to avoid them:

Eating forbidden foods. Pets are tempted by the rich, hearty foods served from Thanksgiving through New Year’s and will sneak them at any opportunity. Heavy, fatty foods, such as gravies and buttered breads, can cause uncomfortable and potentially fatal conditions such as gastritis and pancreatitis. And, never allow your pet to be alone around chocolate, as it is extremely toxic to both cats and dogs.

Always keep holiday treats out of the reach of pets – and store leftovers promptly after meals. It’s also a good idea to avoid open dishes of candy, nuts, and other irresistible snacks that pets can get.

Ornaments. Dogs and cats alike are enticed by shiny ornaments hanging from the Christmas tree – and like to knock them off for a good round of playtime. Unfortunately, glass ornaments often shatter and the jagged edges cut curious paws and noses. Even worse, pets often eat or chew on the broken pieces, leading to more severe injuries.

Unbreakable ornaments are every bit as pretty as glass ones and are a safe substitute. Another tip is to avoid hanging ornaments on the lower branches of the tree. And speaking of the Christmas tree, if you have a live tree, don’t let your pet drink the water. Chemicals can leach out of the tree and poison the water, causing several problems for pets.

Lights and candles. Pets are intrigued by holiday lights – puppies and kittens in particular – and may chew on the electrical cords, which can cause severe burns or electrocution.

Keep all cords out of paws reach – and the same goes for candles. If you are celebrating Hanukkah, keep the lighted menorah away from your pet. Better yet, you can use flameless candles that are just as pretty and much safer.

Ribbon and tinsel. These decorations automatically trigger playtime in many pets. Dogs and cats are known to chew on ribbon and tinsel, which can cause illness and intestinal blockage if ingested. Cats are also known to nibble on Christmas tree needles or artificial greenery, which often upsets their stomachs.

Keep all ribbon and tinsel out of your pet’s reach. For cat owners, you can buy pre-grown “cat grass” seed at your local pet store. Offer that to your cat to keep them away from the greenery — both real and fake.

Why Pet Insurance is a Good Idea during the Holiday Season – and Throughout the Year

If your best efforts still result in your pet becoming ill or injured (and it happens!), you can buy some peace of mind by purchasing pet insurance.

Pet health insurance can help offset the cost of veterinary bills, including emergency care. You can read more about the importance of pet insurance here in one of our past blogs.

Westfield Veterinary Group Remains Open to Help Pets in Need

Lastly, if your pet needs emergency care, our Union location is open throughout the holidays from 7 am to 11 pm – and this includes Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. Call us at 908-777-8387 to let us know you are on the way.

We hope these holiday safety tips will help keep your beloved pet safe and healthy during the most wonderful time of the year.