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Holiday Hazards for your Pet

The holidays are a time of fun and excitement and while we naturally include our companion animals as part of the family, we have to remember that in some ways our furry friends aren’t like us. There are many aspects of holiday traditions and entertaining that can actually pose a hazard to our beloved pets. Here are some pointers on how to keep your best friend(s) safe over the holidays,


All those people
Many of us do a lot of socializing and entertaining over the holidays. That means pets are also exposed to a lot of people they don’t normally see. Are they really up for it? Or does your doggie shy away from strangers and your kitty really doesn’t warm up to anyone but you? Only you know them well enough to say, but if they are really more comfortable without the added stress of lots of unfamiliar faces, you should consider pet sitting or pet boarding if company is staying overnight. At the very least, keeping them in a separate room that is quieter and has everything they need (food, water, litter box,) while the festivities are going on can help keep them calm. Naturally you’ll want to visit them often!

Tree Ornaments
Tree ornaments – small, sparkly and oh so tempting – can pose a significant risk to your pet.

• Tinsel – avoid it if you can! It’s too tempting and too easy to chew, swallow, choke on or get a serious stomach upset. The worst cases require surgery to remove it.
• Don’t hang small or breakable ornaments on lower branches.
• Avoid any decorations made of chocolates, candy or other edibles.
• If you are using a real tree, cover up the water container at the base so your pet can’t drink out of it.
• It is best to keep the most lights higher in the tree and hide or tape the outlet if you can.
• Don’t forget to discard or put away wrapping paper, ribbons and bows from gifts.
• It is best to try and place the tree in a corner – that way if your cat wants to jump into the branches it will minimize the damage.

Toxic Plants!
At all costs, keep your beloved pet away from these toxic holiday plants:

• Mistletoe
• Holly
• Poinsettia
• Amaryllis
• Lilies
• Pine needles – if you’re having a real tree, be sure to keep them cleaned up on a daily basis
• Christmas cactus

If your pet does eat any of these plants, it can cause severe stomach upset, diarrhea and worse. Please call the office right away if that happens.

Chocolate & other Goodies
Chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats so it’s important to keep it out of reach. A decorative container with a firm lid you can close will do the trick. Nuts can also be problematic.

It’s not just a matter of what your pet may sneak out of a tray or off the table. The holidays are a time of big meals and rich foods. You may be tempted to offer table scraps to let your furry family members in on the festivities but it’s very easy to go overboard with small stomachs. It’s best to restrict them to very small treats if any and keep them on healthy pet food.

To your pets best health!

Dr. Gary Arzem, Newmarket’s Veterinarian

About Dr. Arzem and The North Yonge Veterinary Hospital:
Dr. Gary Arzem received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from The Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario in 1989. He is the founder and head veterinarian at The North Yonge Veterinary Hospital in Newmarket, Ontario. Having practiced veterinary medicine for more than 25 years, his skills and special interests include surgery, dentistry, diagnostic imaging (ultrasound and radiography), dermatology, internal medicine, cardiology, ophthalmology and public health as it relates to pets and their owners. He is a founding member of The Veterinary Emergency Clinic of York Region in Newmarket. Dr. Arzem is recognized as an educational leader in the community and is involved with The Ontario Veterinary College, York Region District School Board, Simcoe County Board of Education, and Seneca College’s Co-Operative Education Programs. Dr. Arzem also participates in several continuing education conferences, including The North American and Western Veterinary Conferences and he is actively involved in fundraising for a number of charitable organizations, such as The Pet Trust Fund, The Farley Foundation, The Hospital for Sick Children and the Canadian Cancer Society. He has also appeared on City T.V.’s Animal House Calls and Rogers Your Pet Your Vet television shows and has written several articles for Newmarket’s Snapd Newspapers.


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