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Don't let your pet fall victim to the common holiday dangers this year!


Holidays are a stressful and expensive time of year! The last thing you need this holiday season is the stress of having a hospitalized or sick pet… not to mention the unexpected medical expenses.  Read along and let the VetPet team help you to make this holiday season a safe one for your furry family members!


Can you recognize the potential dangers lurking under your Christmas tree this holiday season?

Sadly, many of the medical emergencies veterinarians see associated with the Christmas holiday are due to a special toy or treat given to Fido as a gift.   Read along to find out what “toys/treats” are commonly implicated so that you don’t find your family in this especially upsetting position.  Remember, some pets do just fine with the following items, but others suffer costly and sometimes life-threatening conditions because of them.  Always use your best judgement when offering your pet a new toy or treat and supervise them closely to make sure that they are enjoying it appropriately.

Commonly “gifted” toys and treats that commonly cause medical problems:

Animal antlers and hooves:  Trauma to the gums, roof of mouth and tooth enamel 

Keep in mind the dental health of your pet and try to select enamel-safe toys (especially for powerful chewers).  Super hard toys like antlers and hooves can easily injure your dog causing painful chipped and broken teeth.  These products are also commonly found to injure gums and the roofs of a dog’s mouth. Antlers are often found stabbed into the roof of the mouth or lodged between the upper teeth.

Real bones:  Digestive tract (stomach and intestine) blockages, penetrating wounds, pancreatitis, infections, GI upset

Please do not feed your dog real bones (chicken bones, ham bones, rib bones, T-bones…. you get the idea!)  Most people know that chicken bones splinter easily, but other types of bones can cause problems too.  Many cases of GI upset and pancreatitis result from these type bones, as do traumatic injuries.  Sometimes, these type bones are swallowed un-splintered, with the ends chewed into sharp points which can act like a shank, perforating the mouth, esophagus, stomach or other parts of the GI tract. Most of us veterinarians have seen a patient in critical condition after being given a bone- often a ham bone given as a Christmas gift.  We hate these cases because (1) the patients often do not do well and (2) our hearts hurt for the poor owners who were only trying to give their pet a treat.  Please...  do not give your dog real bones.

Rope toys:  Digestive tract (stomach and intestine) blockages

Some rope toys become easily unwound and rope can be swallowed.  Rope in the intestinal tract can become embedded in the stomach or intestinal lining, leading to one of the worst (and harder to diagnose) digestive tract blockages (called a “linear foreign body”).

Easily destroyed toys:  Digestive tract (stomach and intestine) blockages

 Toy parts such as stuffing and squeakers are one of the most common causes of obstructions, especially this time of year as pet parents are selecting new toys as gift for their pets.

Rawhide and dried sweet potato:  Digestive tract (stomach and intestine) blockages, GI upset

Some dogs do not chew these appropriately, leading to large portions of hard to digest pieces in the stomach, which can lead to obstruction. 


Other common sources of holiday problems:

On the tree:  Christmas tree decorations are commonly swallowed or broken. Hang potentially dangerous ornaments at the top of the tree.  Lighting can be dangerous if a pet gets tangled and pulls the tree down or chews the lights and is electrocuted.


On the table:  Table scraps are not good treats and have likelihood of causing illness, like diarrhea, vomiting and even pancreatitis.  Many foods that are toxic to pets are out in abundance for the holiday season.  Take a minute to visit the “Education Library” page at to refresh your memory about the toxins that are common this time of year.

REMINDER:  Make sure to find out the holiday hours for your vet and the local ER in case an emergency arises this holiday!


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