Happy Holidays and Hazards to Avoid


Happy Holidays and Hazards to Avoid

The holiday season is abundant with good cheer and celebrations, but nothing can spoil a good time like an emergency trip to the vet.  A bit of pre planning can help keep your winter holiday season from becoming a not-so-happy holiday for you and your furry family members


Food ingestion is a big issue around the holidays. With parties, visitors and sad set of puppy eye, your furry friend has a pretty good chance of sneaking into a distressful dietary situation!  Do your best to keep people food away from pets. If you want them to share in your holiday treats, consider making or buying treats formulated just for them. The following people foods are especially hazardous for pets:

  • Say “No” to Cocoa: Chocolate is an essential part of the holidays for many people, but it is toxic to dogs and cats. Although the toxicity can vary based on the type of chocolate, the size of your pet, and the amount they eat, it’s safer to consider all chocolate off limits for pets all together.
  • Other tasty treats: sweets and baked goods should also be kept out of reach. Not only are they often too rich for pets; xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, often be found in baked goods, candy and chewing gum, has been linked to liver failure and death in dogs.
  • Leave the Leftovers: Table scraps, including gravy and meat fat –should be kept away from pets. Many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets, including onions, raisins and grapes. During the holidays, when our own diets tend toward extra-rich foods, table scraps can be especially fattening and hard for animals to digest and can cause pancreatitis.
  • Got a Bone to Pick: Bones may seem like an extra spcial delight for your furry friend but they pose as a choking hazard, can easily splinter, cause sever damage to the enamel of your dogs teeth, or cause other serious health problems (including death). It’s best to forgo the bones altogether and offer a softer, safer treat.


While we see greenery, lights and Christmas trees as elements to make the holidays festive, our pets see a plethora of risky temptations to be explored.

  • Oh Christmas Tree: It doesn’t take much for a climbing cat or excited dog to knock your Christmas tree over, so make sure to secure your tree. Consider tying it to the ceiling or a doorframe using fishing line to it keep it safe.
  • Adornments and Ornaments: Broken ornaments can cause injuries, and ingested ornaments can cause intestinal blockage or even toxicity. Hang any small or fragile decorations high enough that they won’t break with a wag of a tail or swipe of a paw.
  • Tinsel-less Town: The sparkling allure of tinsel can prove to be too tempting for some pets. Consuming tinsel can cause serious intestinal obstructions, sometimes even requiring surgery.
  • Flora and Your Fauna: Flowers and festive plants can result in an emergency veterinary visit if your pet gets hold of them. Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly are among the common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to pets who decide to eat them. The ASPCA offers lists of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats.

Myth Busting: While poinsettias are not deadly, they can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Eternal Flame: Candles are attractive to pets as well as people. Never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle; it could result in injury or a fire.
  • Scents and Sensibility: In these cold and crazy times it’s tempting to want to surround ourselves with our favourite scents during the holidays, but it is important to remember that cats and dogs are far more sensitive to scents than we are. What we may feel to be an insignificant fragrance, may be overwhelming or harmful to an animal.  Liquid potpourris and essential oils (on their own or in diffusers) pose risks because they may contain oils and detergents that can severely damage your pet’s mouth, eyes, skin or respiratory system. Solid potpourris could also cause digestion or gastro intestinal problems if eaten.

Party Guests and Visitors

Visitors can upset pets, as can the noise and excitement of holiday parties. Even pets that aren’t normally shy may become nervous with all the excitement and activity of a holiday gathering. The following tips will reduce emotional stress on your pet and protect your guests from possible injury.

  • A Quiet Place: All pets should have access to a comfortable, quiet place inside if they want to retreat. Make sure your pet has a room or crate somewhere away from the commotion, where your guests won’t follow, that it can go to anytime it wants to get away.
  • Nervous Nelly: Pets that are nervous around visitors should be put in another room or a crate with a favorite toy. If your pet is particularly upset by houseguests, talk to your veterinarian about possible solutions to this common problem.
  • Houdini, Who?  Watch the exits! Even if your pets are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely, especially when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost.
  • Hello, My Name Is: Identification tags and microchips reunite families. Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information. That way, if they do sneak out, they’re more likely to be returned to you. If your pet isn’t already microchipped, talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of this simple procedure.
  • Tidy Up Time: Clear the food from your table, counters and serving areas when you are done using them – and make sure the trash gets put where your pet can’t reach it. A turkey or chicken carcass or other large quantities of meat sitting out on the carving table, or left in a trash container that is easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging
  • Trash the Trash:  Garbage should also be cleared away to where pets can’t reach it – especially food waste or sparkly ribbon and other decorative items that could be tempting for your pet to play with or consume.

Ringing in the New Year 

New Year celebrations, with the fireworks, noise makers, and champagne may make for an exciting night for humans, but is often a quite different experience for our furry, four legged counterparts. The commotion, loud noises and excitement can be frightening to your pet and prove a significant source of anxiety. Keep your pets relaxed by providing a quiet room with a fan, TV, or music playing to create white noise. Or, if you feel your pet is going to feel particularly uncomfortable consider speaking to your veterinarian about medications to help manage the anxiety. Remember to clean up confetti, balloons, loose ribbon and other decorations before your pet mistakes it for a sparkly snack and ends up with an upset stomach, or worse.

Always Be Prepared

Despite your best efforts to prevent it, it is still possible for your pet to get into something toxic. You should keep telephone numbers for your veterinarian, a local emergency veterinary service, and the Pet Poison Control Center in a convenient location.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested something poisonous, seek medical attention immediately.

ASPCA  Animal Poison Control Hotline: 888-426-4435

Pet Poison Helpline: 855-764-7661

Signs of distress include: sudden change in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting or diarrhea.

Holiday Schedule

Please be aware that we will be closed periodically over the holidays. Many of our food and medication suppliers will also have adjusted schedules causing delays in our orders. Please be sure to order your food and medications in advance and be aware of our adjusted holiday schedule when planning to pick up your items.

We will be


Saturday December 24rd

Sunday December 25th

Monday December 26th

Saturday December 31st

Sunday January 1st

Monday January 2nd

We will also be CLOSED Saturday January 28th for technical maintenance.

If you have an emergency during one of these closures, please contact the Veterinary Emergency Clinic (VEC) at 416-920-2002.

From all of us at Parkdale Animal Hospital, we would like to thank you for continued

support and entrusting us with the care for your loved ones for all these years.

We wish you, your pets and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season, and a joyful new year!