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Pet Safety During the Holidays


Believe it or not, the holidays are right around the corner! Nothing can spoil a great holiday celebration like a trip to the emergency vet. Here are some tips to keep you and your furry friends rocking all season long.

First and foremost, plan in advance!

Make sure you know how to get to your local emergency clinic and, if you are traveling, spend some time before you leave to locate a veterinarian near where you will be staying. Keep phone numbers for your local veterinarian, the nearest emergency veterinarian, and the phone number for the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline handy. For the Austin area:

Westlake Animal Hospital: (512) 327-1703

Local emergency clinics:

Emergency Animal Hospital of Northwest Austin

– North location off 183 and Duval: (512) 331-6121

– South location off 290 and South Lamar: (512) 899-0955

Austin Veterinary Emergency and Specialty (off 2222): (512) 343-2837

Austin Vet Care Central (off North Lamar in Hyde Park): (512) 961-3246

ASPCA Poison Control: (888) 426-4435 (A fee may apply.)

Be Aware of the Dangers of Holiday Decorations

Cats can be particularly difficult to keep safe from the dangers of holiday decorations due to their propensity for climbing and ability to jump onto elevated surfaces. If you have a curious feline at home, consider securing your Christmas tree to the ceiling or a door frame to keep it from tipping over. Another trick you may try is placing tin foil around the tree to keep cats away- many cats hate the feeling of walking on tin foil.

Be cautious when choosing and placing ornaments. Broken ornaments can cause injuries, and ingested ornaments can cause intestinal blockages or even toxicity. Keep any homemade ornaments, particularly those made from salt dough, out of reach of pets. Consider skipping the tinsel if you have a cat at home.

Holly, mistletoe, some varieties of Poinsettias, and amaryllis plants are toxic to dogs and cats. In addition, ingestion of even a small amount of any part of a lily can cause kidney failure in cats, so it is recommended to completely avoid bringing lilies into households with cats.

Pass on Feeding Leftovers to Fido

We all know chocolate is toxic to dogs when consumed in sufficient quantities, but did you know pets can get sick from our holiday dinner foods as well? Dogs are quite sensitive to excess fat intake and may develop a potentially life threatening condition called pancreatitis if they consume even a little too much fat. Raisins and grapes are another potential danger and are common in many holiday foods. In addition to asking your guests not to feed your pets, clear food from your table and counters when you are finished with your meal and make sure trash is put out of reach of your pet. It is recommended to dispose of carcasses, bones, or large quantities of meat in a closed trash container outdoors or behind a closed, locked door. If you think your pet has eaten something it should not have, call Westlake Animal Hospital, a local emergency clinic, or ASPCA Poison control right away.

Dogs Get Stressed When Your M-I-L Visits, Too

Even pets that are normally outgoing may be upset by visitors and the noise and excitement that comes along with them. Consider your pet’s point-of-view: to them, every visitor is unexpected and uninvited!

Consider the following tips to help reduce your pets stress level and keep your guests safe:

  • Give your pet a quiet, comfortable place inside where they can go to get away if the noise and new people are too much for them.
  • Pets that are generally nervous around visitors should be put in another room or a crate with a favorite toy or treat.
  • Remember, many children and adults are not aware of proper social etiquette around unfamiliar pets, so supervise each interaction and watch your pet for signs of stress or fear, such as trying to get away or growling. If these signs occur, politely intercede on behalf of your pet.
  • Consider use of a calming pheromone spray or collar to help relax your pet prior to arrival of guests.

Guests With Pets

If guests bring their own pets along to visit, plan to spend time introducing them properly when they first arrive. Ideally, start by taking both pets on a walk through the neighborhood to introduce them in neutral territory. Orchestrating a good first impression will reduce the chance of negative interactions between pets throughout your guest’s stay.

Always closely supervise interactions between pets. When you are busy or not at home, keep pets separated to keep them safe. Fights between unfamiliar pets often occur when you are not looking or when you are not at home. Finally, always keep the pets separated during feeding times- food is a common stimulus for bad behavior! If, despite your best efforts, your pet and your guest’s pet are not getting along, keep them separate at all times or consider boarding one pet until it is time to go home. Although holiday boarding fills up fast, here at Westlake Animal Hospital, we will always try to make room in case of such an emergency.

Have a happy holiday season

Plan ahead so you can enjoy the holiday season with less stress and a happy, healthy pet. If trouble does arise, it is best to address it right away, so keep your veterinarian’s phone number on hand. If you have any questions about how to keep your pet safe this holiday season, the veterinarians and staff at Westlake Animal Hospital would be happy to help!


Contact Us

Westlake Animal Hospital


3930 Bee Cave Rd. Austin, TX 78746

Clinic Hours

Mon-Fri: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sat & Sun: Closed