During the holidays, pets are exposed to more hazards than usual, according to Veterinarians.org, a website that releases an annual report on holiday pet safety with insight from veterinarians around the country.
To create the 2021 report, a team at Veterianarians.org looked at Google Trends data over five years to show that there’s traditionally an uptick in Google searches for an ER vet during the last two weeks of December.
From Dec. 15, 2020, to Jan. 2, 2021, Google searches for ER vet were most popular in the state of Utah, where searches were three times more popular than in the next leading state. Other states where Google searches for ER vet were most popular include Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Massachusetts, Georgia, Pennsylvania and California.
“Given the increase in Google searches for emergency veterinarians during the holiday season, the issue is one that requires increased awareness,” the report reads. “While the dangers to which pets may be exposed during the holiday season are many, with proper education, families can keep their companion animals safe while still including them in holiday traditions.”
Discover which holiday treats and traditions are safe for pets, according to the report.
The most common holiday hazards for pets include toxic plants, anti-freeze, rock salt, wired lights, broken ornaments and toxic foods.
For instance, Christmas trees often attract the attention of dogs and cats. If a tree is not securely anchored, it can potentially fall onto and injure an animal. Tree water also poses a danger, as bacteria are known to grow and thrive in sitting water, which may cause gastrointestinal upset in an animal if ingested, as can any added Christmas tree fertilizer.
Pet owners can fix the issue by securing a Christmas tree to a wall or ceiling and blocking the tree off with a playpen, baby gate, or another barrier to keep pets safe while additionally covering the tree stand with aluminum foil to discourage pets from drinking from it.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals receives over a quarter of a million cases of potential animal poisonings per year and plants are the eighth-most reported pet toxin, accounting for 40% of all calls, per the report.
Seasonal plants such as mistletoe, holly, lilies, azaleas, evergreens and poinsettias are all toxic to animals. Ingestion of such plants can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and in some cases, even cardiovascular issues. Cats in particular are especially vulnerable to lilies, which can cause kidney failure if ingested.
In a home filled with pets, artificial plants are the safest option when it comes to holiday decor, the report determines.