The holidays are the time of year when we get together with friends and family to celebrate the season. It is also a time to make sure our pets stay safe. Some of the most common reasons for veterinary visits are foreign body ingestion, accidental poisonings, and digestive issues.

While our dogs may like treats as much as we do, there can be too much of a good thing. Fatty foods can cause stomach upset or pancreatitis. Dogs are notorious for finding and opening bags of food and counter-surfing to reach baked goods. We have to be diligent to keep foods such as chocolate and other dangerous ones completely out of reach. Even a few seconds of distraction can lead to ingestion of a whole pan of brownies.

An increasing number of foods now contain Xylitol as a sugar substitute. This includes some brands of chewing gum, candy, multivitamins, sugar-free foods, and now some peanut butters. Thus far, only a few smaller brands of peanut butter contain Xylitol, but with the widespread use of peanut butter to give medications and use in toys to keep dogs busy, labels must be read carefully. Even a small amount of Xylitol can cause dangerous hypoglycemia and potentially fatal liver failure.

Christmas trees and decorations can also provide ample opportunity for pets to get into trouble. Tinsel is very enticing to cats and can cause intestinal blockage. Ornaments can cause similar problems. Dogs and cats also love to drink Christmas tree water, so it is best to not use any potentially toxic water additives.

With these tips, we can keep the holiday season safe and enjoyable for our animal companions.

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