When does a Christmas accident turn into an emergency?


By Michelle Mullins, CPDT-KA, PetSafe Training and Behavior Education Department Manager

pet christmas emergency

The holidays are such an exciting time, but they can cause extra stress and anxiety for your pet. Use these tips to prepare in case something goes wrong this holiday season.

Pet emergencies can happen at any time. However the holidays can provide additional challenges with the increased travel and festivities that accompany them. By recognizing an emergency and having a plan in place to respond, you have very good chance of keeping your pet safe and perhaps saving their life.

The holiday season is filled with delicious food, beautiful decorations and visits by friends and family. As wonderful as these are, any of these can cause stress and even danger for your pet.

Decking out the house for the holidays gets us all in the holiday spirit, but one emergency trip to the veterinarian can ruin holiday fun. Pets can find the smells and textures of holiday decorations very interesting and many of these can be extremely dangerous. Both cats and dogs can pull over Christmas trees and candelabras, ingest pine needles, tinsel, toxic plants and flowers and even tree lights.

How do know if you have a real emergency on your hands? Supervise your pet closely and watch for signs they would indicate a trip to the veterinarian is in order. These include:

  • Trauma, bleeding, broken bones
  • Lethargy
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Bloody stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased or no water intake
  • Ingesting a poisonous food, toxic substance or foreign object
  • Collapse, unconsciousness, disorientation or seizure
  • Abdomen is hard and/or swollen

Check with your veterinarian now to confirm their holiday hours of operation. They should also be able to provide a number for the closest emergency or 24 hour veterinary hospital for when they are unavailable. Make a list of these numbers and post them near the phone or add them to your mobile phone address book along with the number for Animal Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435.

Call about any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, make the call that can make all the difference. Have a debit or credit card ready since there is a charge to use the service, but it is worth it to save your pet’s life.

The holidays often bring lots of visitors to your home or you may travel to visit friend and family. Pets can find these situations overwhelming and become anxious or frightened and try to escape and accidentally get loose. Be prepared by having your pet’s id tag up to date with your contact information. To protect pets at home place them in closed bedroom or a crate avoids the possibility of them slipping out as guests arrive.

When traveling:

  • Pets should be in a crate or in the back with safety/car harnesses or behind pet safety gates.
  • Get an additional ID tag listing your temporary location and cell phone number for the pet’s collar.
  • Have the numbers for local animal control or police in the area you are traveling through and for your final destination.
  • Keep current pictures of your pet available on a laptop, tablet or cell phone just in case your pet becomes lost. Both a full body view and a close up.

Hopefully, you won’t need this advice during the holidays but it is important to have on hand just in case. Have you ever experienced any pet holiday emergency? What advice would you add to our list?


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One Response to When does a Christmas accident turn into an emergency?

  1. Kathleen Scott says:

    I had a beagle when I was a kid who ate all the foil-wrapped chocolate ornaments hanging within reach from the tree. She was pretty sick, but recovered in time to open her stocking. Great article. Thanks!

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