Pet Proofing Your Home For The Holidays

By Staci Turney, Assistant Hospital Manager

As summer turns to fall, we look ahead to the cool weather and warmth of emotions that come from celebrating the upcoming holidays with family and friends. Hopefully, Covid will subside enough to allow our family traditions to continue, as safely as possible. Here at Rocky Gorge, we know pets can be our best friends and even family members that celebrate life’s adventures with us. In order to properly prepare you for the holidays, please take note of these important tips to keep your pets safe and healthy while you celebrate as family.


Some of you may already know that chocolate is NOT a treat for your furry critters to enjoy. Also, sugar-free candies may contain Xylitol, which also can be toxic to your pet. Therefore, it is better to keep those sweet goodies to yourself and the human children, if you do want to indulge this season.

Another factor to consider for pet safety, is the possibility of escape during frequent visits from trick-or-treaters. While Covid may affect many people’s decisions on how to safely celebrate Halloween, be aware opening any door frequently could result in your beloved pet dashing out the door in all the excitement. Please keep eyes on your pet(s) to prevent this potentially dangerous event from occurring.


Who doesn’t love a hearty meal and giving thanks for all the good in our lives?! Our precious pets enjoy a lot of these foods, but there could be some unpleasant side effects if you do decide to share. The fancy term for this is dietary indiscretion and specifically refers to the tendency for certain animals to feed on unusual items or undergo drastic changes in feeding behavior. The unusual items can include non-edible materials, such as garbage or foreign objects, or foods that are not normally eaten by the animal. This can directly cause symptoms related to gastrointestinal upset like vomiting and diarrhea. Pancreatitis can also occur if your pet eats something that is high in fat. Cases of pancreatitis can range from mild to severe, even requiring hospitalization for some pets affected by this disease. Also, cooked bones (i.e. ham bone, turkey bones, etc.) can be harmful as they can splinter when eaten, with the potential to cause internal punctures in the gastrointestinal tract. In summary, it is best to avoid giving any and all table scraps to your pets, to ensure their safety. 


The same risks are present as it relates to food, when it comes to Hannukah celebrations. The additional factors to consider are the nightly lighting of the menorah and the unwrapping of presents. Some people do use electric menorahs, which is obviously safer than lighting actual candles. Normal precaution should still be taken with electrical cords. Gifts wrapped with ribbons can be a source of entertainment for your cat, but they can also be hazardous as some cats like to eat string-like objects. 

Please be mindful and watchful if you have any cats and also like to wrap gives with ribbons or strings. When your family opens them for those eight celebratory nights, make sure the clean up of any of those potentially dangerous materials happen quickly.


Similar to the other holidays, it is important to remember that certain items can be toxic to your furry ones. Therefore, having items like chocolate and holiday plants like poinsettias that can be Christmas staples for some households can be risky if left accessible to your pets.  In the times of gift preparation and opening, beware the ribbons and string-like materials if you have cats. This includes tinsel! Some cats are even known to climb Christmas trees and meow a fierce, “Timber” as it comes crashing down. Those kitties can be mischievous, but that is why we love them so. 

Another potential stressor on pets can be unfamiliar visitors or guests. If you know your pet is shy with strangers, please advise your family members to move slowly and be patient with your pets, not forcing attention or affection. Stranger danger can be real in the minds of our sensitive fur babies and their fear and anxiety can manifest in unusual ways. 

Sometimes our pets give warnings that they are uncomfortable that we or others might not recognize. Putting pets in situations that cause them anxiety can be dangerous in the event it leads to fear biting or aggression. Please keep a watchful eye on those seemingly introverted pets, if you are having company this Christmas. 

Hopefully, this holiday season will bring nothing but joy, good health and love to your households. Now you are prepared to pet-proof your home for the holidays! 

In the event you or your pets need us, however, we are here 24/7! If your pet has gotten into something potentially toxic, it is recommended that you contact poison control directly by phone at 1-888-426-4435. A consultation fee usually applies. The veterinary toxicologist can direct you more specifically and may recommend follow up care with a local veterinarian.

ASPCA Poison Control:

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