Don’t eat that!: Top 3 pet holiday hazards

December 11, 2020
dvm360 Staff

With the holiday season in full effect, make sure to educate your clients about the dangers these common festive items can pose to their pets.

The holiday season, with its bright lights, mistletoe, and chocolates galore, can pose serious health hazards to pets. To help keep pets safe and their owners merry and bright, Nationwide has reviewed their data claims and unveiled the top causes for veterinary visits during the holidays.

“Festive food and décor should be enjoyed this time of year, but a little extra vigilance on the part of pet owners can go a long way to making sure the holidays are safe and happy for everyone in the family,” says Dr. Jules Benson, Nationwide’s chief veterinary officer, in this Nationwide press release. Below are some of the top hazardous holiday items for pets:

  • Chocolate and caffeine. Educate your clients about the danger chocolate and caffeine can pose to pets. Nationwide’s database revealed that 21% of claims in December were for pets ingesting chocolate treats.
  • Consumption of foreign objects. Tinsel, wrapping paper, smaller decorations, and ribbons are common holiday items that are often swallowed by pets. Not only can this be painful, but they are costly to remove. According to the Nationwide-insured data, the average cost to remove a foreign object from a cat or dog ranges from $959 per pet to $2,112 per pet.
  • Poisoning from plant-based items. While plant-based decorations look great in your clients’ households, they pose a threat to their pets. Holly, pine needles from the Christmas tree, and holly berries are toxic for animals. Additionally, ingestion of food staples like garlic, nuts, and raisins can cause serious illness in companion animals.

During what is considered to be one of the costliest times of the year, each of these claims has the potential to financially and emotionally overwhelm pet owners. Educating your clients on the importance of pet insurance and the potential risks of these festive items and foods is one way to help ensure a safe, healthy, and joyous holiday season for pet owners and their furry friends.

"We've needed the companionship of our pets more than ever this year, but resist those begging faces and avoid sharing table scraps or leftovers,” says Benson. “I won't pretend your pets will thank you for it, but a holiday without a trip to the vet is even more desirable in 2020!"