Keep Your Pet Warm and Safe for the Holidays

Together, the holidays and winter season can be hazardous for our pets. From freezing temperatures to toxic foods and plants, it’s important to keep an eye on your companion and use caution when preparing for and celebrating the holidays.

Harmful Foods

It’s probably best not to feed your pet table scraps at all, but these foods should especially be off-limits:

  • Chocolate (any kind)
  • Currants, grapes, and raisins
  • Garlic, chives, onions, leeks, and shallots
  • Macadamia nuts, pecans, and walnuts
  • Meat bones
  • Uncooked bread dough
  • Butter, bacon grease, and fat
  • Beer, wine, hard liquor, caffeine, eggnog, etc.
  • Sugar-free gum, candy, and baked goodies that might contain xylitol, a sugar substitute

Be sure to inform your guests about the dangers of these foods and why they should avoid giving handouts. Keep your pet content with their own food and treats.

Winter Weather Dangers

Winter in Chicago can be harsh, especially for our four-legged friends. In addition to keeping your pet warm as often as possible, consider these tips:

  • Even with a fur coat, animals can still experience the cold and even develop frostbite! If you frequently take your pet out on walks or let them wander around in the yard, get them a jacket (and booties, if they’ll tolerate them) to keep warm. Protective footwear is important because it prevents snow and ice from getting stuck between your pet’s paw pads. It also prevents the paw pads from getting burnt when walking on sidewalk salt.
  • Before starting your car and heading off to work in the morning, knock on the hood and check under it in case a stray cat decided to use your car for shelter.
  • Antifreeze is extremely toxic to animals, and its strong, sweet smell can be very enticing. Clean up spills, wipe down surfaces, and store antifreeze in a secure place that your pet can’t reach. If your pet does get a taste of antifreeze, contact us or a local emergency vet right away.

Decoration Safety

  • If you have a live Christmas tree, know that the tree sap and needles can be toxic to your pet. The tree water also becomes a receptacle for sap and needles and can be dangerous if your pet tries to drink it.
  • Keep your best ornaments away from the lower branches of the tree and avoid putting up glass ornaments if possible.
  • Tinsel, flocking, and tinsel garland are choking hazards, so be careful with these or opt for safer alternatives.
  • Electrical cords, if chewed, can burn your pet’s mouth. Don’t leave strands hanging where your pet can reach them, and either tuck cords that are on the floor out of view or cover them with protective tubing.
Cat wearing Christmas sweater: Holiday Pet Safety in Chicago