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Pets and the holiday season don't always mix.

© Martine Lavallée B.A.A. and Animal Health Technician


Who hasn't experienced the pressure of the holiday season when you want everything to be perfect? But with pets, this stress can increase even more, as watching over our four-legged friends becomes a real challenge.

Furthermore, with all the activities in the house, our pets become anxious and feverish: wrapping presents, preparing meals, welcoming guests, are all situations that, unfortunately, will not calm our companions.

Also, a gift idea to be avoided at all costs, it that to offer in present a pet. Let's talk about it a little.

Buying or adopting a pet is a long-term commitment 

A compulsive purchase such as the acquisition of a sweater that is not appreciated by the person who receives it as a gift, has very few consequences.

On the other hand, a pet that is given as a gift has major negative effects because a pet is a lifetime responsibility.

It is not a consumer item that can be easily disposed of. Adopting a pet can be a joyful moment for the whole family, but it is an important decision that must be duly considered before being made. Also, giving a pet at Christmas to someone who is not expecting it, who is not ready for such a big sentimental and financial responsibility, or who simply does not want a pet, will have serious consequences such as bad timing of the holiday season. Indeed, the preparation of meals, family reunions and trips here and there to visit loved ones, make it unfavorable to introduce a young companion during this period.

Every year after the holidays, shelters are overwhelmed with the return of "gifts". Shelters are overwhelmed and struggle to care for their residents who need care, walks and attention. Some shelters become so full that they have no choice but to euthanize excess animals. Others may end up on the street, because unfortunately some owners don't bother to bring their unwanted animals to the shelter.


Pets, stuffed animals and decorations, what a headache!

During the holiday season, one in four Canadians find themselves having to take their pets to the vet on an emergency basis.

In order to prevent this festive season from turning into a disaster and to prevent emergency visits to our veterinarian, here are the elements to watch out for in your environment.





Alcohol: Alcohol is a dangerous substance for pets, so keep drinks and bottles out of reach at all times. Signs of intoxication include vomiting, wobbly gait, depression and/or a drop in body temperature. If alcohol ingestion is suspected, take your pet to a veterinarian immediately.





Chocolate: Milk chocolate is much less dangerous than dark chocolate for animals. It is the level of theobromine that makes chocolate more or less toxic. The signs are: thirst, vomiting, agitation and trembling, but sometimes also weakness and depression. In severe cases, heart problems can be noted.




Onions and garlic are toxic to our small animals. Let's be vigilant.





Poultry Bones: Sharp poultry bones such as turkey bones can fracture and become lodged in the throat or further down the digestive tract. Never give them to your dog or cat.






Table scraps: Our pets are real Houdinis! They are on our counters, tables and garbage cans as soon as our backs are turned. So we need to keep our table scraps and pet waste garbage cans out of reach as soon as possible.








Xylitol: Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in chewing gum, confectionery, supermarket baked goods and other products that can cause liver disease or even liver failure.





Artificial Christmas tree or not: With needles, balls and small decorations that can be swallowed, Christmas trees are especially dangerous for our cats. The shiny tinsel is very attractive to our pets, but it can cause blockages in the intestines. Also, the electrical cords from Christmas lights can shock, burn or electrocute a pet if they bite them. Natural Christmas tree water can also be harmful if drunk by anyone.









Mistletoe: More rare here in Quebec celebrations, mistletoe creates an acute irritation of the digestive tract when eaten. Also the whole body of the animal is affected: decrease in heart rate, drop in temperature, breathing difficulties, imbalance, excessive thirst and sometimes epileptic seizures, coma and death.




Holly: The absorption of this plant commonly causes signs such as digestive disorders and nervous system depression. This plant has the same toxic components as chocolate (caffeine, theobromine).







Poinsettia: The whole plant is toxic. Its ingestion often produces mild to moderate digestive disorders: excessive salivation, vomiting and diarrhea. If we suspect that our pet has chewed or eaten something unusual, it is best to call our veterinarian immediately and he will tell us what to do.








To make our holiday season memorable, let's avoid adopting or giving away a pet during this period. Also, let's make sure that decorations, wrappers and dangerous foods are not within reach of our pets' mouths. Let's also make this magical time of year as stress-free as possible for us and our pets.