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Protect your pets from household hazards during the holidays

Holiday petsDecorations sparkle with inviting lights…and tantalizing scents from special foods entice closer inspection. Unfortunately, a too-close encounter with holiday favorites may lead to an emergency trip for your favorite pet.

Dr. Ed Cooper, specialist in veterinary emergency and critical care medicine at the Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center, reminds pet owners that holidays can be a dangerous time for dogs and cats in the home.

Foods that are tasty treats during holiday parties can be dangerously toxic for dogs. Chocolate, especially dark or baker's chocolate, consumed in large quantities can make our canine pals ill.

Grapes and raisins can also be dangerous, as well as certain sugar substitutes (xylitol) used in baking and found in sugar-free gum. Keep your pet in mind when positioning foods for guests, and place items out of reach as much as possible, he said.

Additionally, Cooper recommends you move your pet to a different room out of harm’s way and alert visitors not to offer treats to your dog or cat. A list of dangerous plants and other toxins can be found here.

Determining if your pet might need a trip to a veterinary emergency room requires owners to watch for behavioral changes, Cooper said. Signs of toxin exposure include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, change in behavior, trembling, twitching and seizure. Owners should call their family veterinarian if they are concerned. A list of emergency signs is available here.

The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center is available 24 hours a day at two locations for emergencies. Phone numbers and directions are available at

Dec. 5, 2014

This story was featured on the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences' website as part of their series, "12 Days of Experts." Click here to read.


Last updated: 

Monday, November 23, 2015 - 12:00pm