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Animal Attraction: Help Your Furry Friend Stay Safe And Healthy This Holiday Season

by Stacy Fox

Posted on December 14, 2009 at 5:38 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 14 at 5:27 PM

While home may be the ideal destination this time of year, many pet owners find that there is no place like the veterinarian’s office for the holidays. Unfortunately, the most wonderful time of the year is also one of the most dangerous for pets. In order to assess the impact of the holidays on pet health, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, analyzed claims submitted in 2008 with a treatment date of December 25. The company found that last year more than 200 policyholders spent Christmas Day at the veterinarian’s office—most with pets receiving treatment for accidental injuries or dietary indiscretion. Following are the top five Christmas Day claims of 2008:

Top Five Christmas Day Claims
1. Gastritis/Enteritis
2. Lacerations or Bite Wounds
3. Soft Tissue Trauma
4. Foreign Body Ingestion
5. Chocolate Poisoning

The Houston SPCA has a few tips to help keep your furry friend safe and happy over the holidays.

1.  Proper Identification:  Make sure your pet is wearing proper ID tags and has been microchipped in the event he/she dashes out the door and becomes lost.

2.  Skip the table scraps & sweets:  Any sudden change in a pet’s diet can cause severe indigestion and diarrhea.  Bones can splinter and cause blockages. Greasy, spicy and fatty foods can also cause stomach upset or even worse – an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis.  Sweets can kill, so keep chocolate, desserts all types of candy and the foil / cellophane wrappers they come in out of your pets reach.

3.  Use caution with cocktails:  Many holiday plans include adult alcoholic beverages. If ingested, an animal can become sick and weak, and possibly go into a coma which could lead to death due to respiratory failure.

4.  Use caution with floral arrangements:  Many festive holiday plants such as mistletoe, holly berries, and poinsettias can be toxic to pets. Lilies are especially deadly to cats.

5.  Christmas Tree Water:  The water that keeps your tree flourishing may contain fertilizers which if ingested can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree water can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria and cause vomiting, abdominal discomfort and diarrhea in your pet.

6.  Decorations:  Ribbons, tinsel, pine needles, and glass tree ornaments if ingested can become lodged in your pets intestines causing intestinal blockage. Tape down electrical cords as chewing on them could cause pets to be badly burned or electrocuted.  And, keep candles safely out of your pet’s reach!

7.  Unwanted Gift:  Never surprise a friend, spouse or partner with a gift of a pet for the holidays.  A companion animal is for life, not just the holidays.

Remember to always keep a watchful eye on your pets, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  Contact your veterinarian or nearest animal emergency clinic immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested something that may be toxic or dangerous.


For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call  800-USA-PETS  800-USA-PETS  ( 800-872-7387  800-872-7387 ) or visit

For more information about the Houston SPCA, visit