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Holiday Safety Tips for Pet Owners

What owners need to know to keep pets safe this holiday season

By Meghan Herron, DVM, DACVB, Clinical Instructor, Behavioral Medicine, and Hannah Minch, DVM, Clinical Instructor, Small Animal Community Practice

  1. Try to maintain a consistent and predictabfle daily schedule, even though you may have time off during the holidays. For example, wake up, walk or play with your pets, and keep meals on a similar schedule as you would on work or school days.
  2. Unplug the Christmas tree and block your pet's access to it when you are not able to supervise. Lights and ornaments may look like appealing toys to pets, many of which may be dangerous if ingested or chewed. Other decorative items that are potentially toxic or dangerous include mistletoe, poinsettia plants, lilies, tinsel, electrical cords, gift-wrap ribbons and lit candles. Do not let them drink water in the base of your live Christmas tree if you have added plant preservatives.
  3. Ingestion of holiday foods can cause foreign body/toxic reaction/pancreatitis. Inappropriate bones (e.g. turkey bones), chocolate, high fat foods, onions, macadamia nuts, raisins, and grapes are some foods that are very dangerous. Provide your dog with a special canned-food-stuffed toy during large holiday dinners to discourage begging and to prevent your pets from eating human food items that may be high in fat or contain chocolate. Your guests may not realize that certain foods are toxic for pets, so be sure to inform them before they may sneak your pet some treats.
  4. If your pet does not do well with visitors, it may be best to board your pet if you are having a large gathering in your home during the holidays. If that is not possible, try to set up a safe, quiet room where stressors are minimized and visitors will not bother your pet.
  5. Some pets may not travel well and may feel more secure if left home with a pet-sitter, or boarded, rather than traveling with you over the holidays.

Despite taking precautions, sometimes accidents do happen. The Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center is open 24 hrs a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for companion animal, farm animal, and equine emergencies. If your animal needs emergency treatment, please call 614-292-3551 (companion animal) or 614-292-6661 (equine and farm animal).

Media contact: Kristine McComis, 614-688-3517

The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center
601 Vernon L. Tharp Street
Columbus, OH 43210


About the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State

Founded in 1885, The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine is ranked fifth in the nation and includes more than 1,000 faculty, staff and students in the Departments of Veterinary Biosciences, Veterinary Clinical Sciences, and Veterinary Preventive Medicine. The Veterinary Medical Center is one of the largest specialty referral centers in the world, with more than 35,000 farm, equine, and companion animal patients each year. A nationally-recognized ambulatory practice and teaching unit in Marysville, Ohio provides farm animal experience to every veterinary student, and the Food Animal Health Research Program in Wooster, OH focuses on detection, control, and prevention of disease. Located on the only campus in the country with a comprehensive medical center offering seven health sciences colleges, we admit up to 162 veterinary students per class, and offer a new comprehensive graduate program in Veterinary and Comparative Medicine as well as a unique Master’s degree in Veterinary Public Health, in partnership with the College of Public Health.   


Last updated: 

Friday, May 4, 2012 - 3:14pm