‘Tis the season for parties and family gatherings, which includes spending quality time with your furry family members. While festive decorations and décor are an essential part of celebrating the season, they may be putting your pets at risk. Because of this, we created this holiday hazards for pet’s guide, as a way to help avoid any unexpected situations. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Sarah Nold to learn more about the holiday hazards for pets that all pet owners should be mindful of this season.
Holiday hazards for pets: a dog and cat owner guide
A popular decoration, tinsel, can be seen everywhere from banisters to Christmas trees. Nold points out why it is a holiday hazard for your pets.
“The primary hazard associated with tinsel is that it can cause a gastrointestinal blockage of the intestines that can result in the blood supply to the intestines being compromised. If left untreated the ingestion of tinsel could ultimately result in death. Cats in particular seem to being at a greater risk for ingestion of tinsel, as it makes an attractive ‘prey’ for them to play with.
Ultimately the best way to prevent tinsel ingestion is to not have it in your house. If you do have tinsel in your house, watch for are vomiting, diarrhea and decreased appetite. If you notice any of these signs, you should contact your veterinarian right away. Further, historically tinsel was made out of lead (which obviously has its own issues), but now most tinsel is plastic and those that are metal-based are aluminum.”
Treatment for ingestion
Trupanion claims data
We sat down with our Trupanion data team to get further insight into the impact of holiday hazards for pets with claims submissions and breeds. For example, “Poodles, Pomeranians, and French Bulldogs top the list of toxicity claim frequency,” states Malia Prescott, Trupanion data analyst.
Did you know?
Cats and dogs alike are mischievous when it comes to tinsel. To prove that point, consider the British Shorthair cat Viggo, he had a $896.95 tinsel ingestion claim, and fortunately the Trupanion policy paid $807.26
Mistletoe is a decoration commonly used in doorways, entryways, and other open spaces. Nold weighs in on the way the toxic plant may affect your best friend.
“The American mistletoe is commonly used as a Christmas decoration. Mistletoe contains glycoprotein lectins that inhibit protein synthesis leading to cell death, as well as phoratoxins and ligatoxin, which can act as cardiac depressants. The most common signs seen after the ingestion of mistletoe are vomiting, depression, diarrhea, and low blood pressure. Usually, signs are mild and self-limiting, thus serious poisonings (such as those resulting in death) with mistletoe is extremely rare. If a large amount of mistletoe was recently ingested your veterinarian may recommend inducing vomiting. Otherwise, the main course of treatment is supportive care to avoid dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities.”
Treatment for ingestion
The truth about puppies, kittens, and plants
While puppies and kittens are fun-loving and cute, they certainly have a way of getting into things they shouldn’t. Accidents happen, especially when it comes to little ones eating things. For instance, “puppies and kittens are 2.3 x more likely to incur a plant or animal ingestion claim than an adult and senior pets,” says Prescott.
Plants are a popular way to decorate for the holidays. Because of this, poinsettias have been a staple in households and offices over the years. Nold breaks down the effect of this plant ingestion and the signs to look out for in your furry family members.
“Poinsettia is a common plant seen around the holidays. It appears that the toxic effects of poinsettias are greatly exaggerated, as signs from ingestion are often mild and self-limiting. The sap of the poinsettia causes irritation. For instance, contact with the skin can result in redness and itchiness. Ingestion can result in excessive drooling, vomiting and more rarely diarrhea. As with mistletoe, if a large amount of poinsettia was recently ingested your veterinarian may recommend inducing vomiting. Also similarly, in cases of ingestion, the main course of treatment is supportive care to avoid dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities. If contact was on the skin, bathing with mild soap and rinsing well is usually sufficient.”
Treatment for ingestion
Holiday hazards for pets: ’tis the season
While hazards can occur at any time of year, there may be a seasonal trend. For instance, “Trupanion sees 35% more toxicity claims in December compared to the rest of the year,” points out Prescott.
Keep holiday hazards away from your
pets this season
Whether you are traveling with your pets this holiday or hosting a party, be mindful of your pet’s behavior and what they are snacking on. No pet owner wants the stress of a sick pet during the holidays. If you notice any abnormality in your pet’s behavior, please seek medical care. With the expertise and guidance of a veterinarian and medical staff, your best friend can get the treatment and medical care they need.
We love informed decisions. Please see the Trupanion policy for full coverage details.
is a digital content writer for Trupanion. She spends her workday writing for the Trupanion blog. She loves writing about pets, being creatively inspired by pets, and luckily gets to hang out with pets all day long. In her free time, she enjoys exploring and traveling with her family.