Standing in your kitchen, you hear your kids and their cousins happily playing a board game. Your in-laws are nestled on the living room couch watching a holiday parade as your husband and brother-in-law discuss last night’s game. As you finish scrubbing the splattered gravy from the top of the stove, your sister rattles on about her work. Finding a cold piece of turkey behind the roasting pan, you pick it up, turning to toss it to Fido, your loveable mix-breed rescue dog. Always right at your feet, ready for any piece of food that may fall to the floor, you toss the scrap but realize Fido isn’t sitting in his normal spot.


Where is that dog?

Poor Fido is curled up in a ball in a quiet corner of the den, eyes narrowed in discomfort. It’s something most veterinary professionals deal with every year: pets who enjoy the holidays a little too much. From dogs that overeat scraps of that delicious home-cooked feast to cats that get a little too friendly with traditional holiday plants, this is a time of year when pet owners need to be increasingly aware of potential hazards to the health of their pets.

  • Gastritis and pancreatitis — Two common ailments during the holiday season, gastritis and pancreatitis are inflammation of the gastrointestinal system and pancreas. These problems can occur when our furry friends over-indulge on foods that they may not be accustomed to eating—especially those high in fat (like turkey skin). Signs of these illnesses include decreased appetite, vomiting, obvious pain and discomfort, decreased energy, and diarrhea. Pancreatitis can be life-threatening, so call us immediately if your pet seems to be experiencing gastrointestinal upset.
  • Food poisoning — Small nibbles may seem harmless, but many ingredients found in holiday foods can potentially cause big problems for our pets. Some of the most common offenders include:
  • Chocolate (the darker the chocolate, the more harmful)
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Bones
  • Xylitol (a sugar substitute)

If ingestion is known, contact our office or the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435.

  • Foreign body ingestion — While tinsel hanging from Christmas tree branches may look beautiful to you, frisky felines often see dangling delights. And, small toys left out when the kids are done playing could become problematic for your pooch. When your pet consumes something she shouldn’t, a blockage could occur somewhere along the digestive tract, and emergency surgery could be necessary. Signs of a possible foreign body ingestion can include: lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, straining to defecate, decreased energy, and abdominal pain. If you witness your pet consuming a foreign object, call our office. Do not try to induce vomiting on your own.
  • Plant ingestion — During the holiday season, many homes are adorned with beautiful plants, setting the scene for all the festivities to come. If you enjoy decorating with holiday plants, be mindful of those that are toxic to pets, including:
    • Mistletoe
    • Poinsettias
    • Holly
    • Lilies
    • Pine

This is not a complete list of potentially toxic plants, so be sure to do your homework before bringing plants into your home.

  • Holiday travel — Traveling with pets has become a regular practice for many pet owners, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
    • Bring your pet’s vaccination information with you.
    • If traveling across state lines, a health certificate may be required. Contact your veterinarian to obtain the necessary paperwork.
    • If your pet requires daily medication, bring it with you, and have enough to last beyond the extent of your travel dates.
    • Bring your pet’s own food and treats. A sudden change in diet can cause digestive problems.
    • Restrain your pet properly while traveling. Appropriately sized carriers and attached identification can be crucial in the event of an emergency.


Proper planning and awareness during the holiday season can reduce the risk of emergency veterinary visits. Have questions about keeping your pet safe over the holidays? Call us at 615-383-1000.