Stephanie Zablah-Kruger

Take time to keep your pets safe during the holidays

Take time to keep your pets safe during the holidays
Pets need to understand “drop it” and “leave it” cues if they want to stay in the kitchen.

Stephanie Zablah-KrugerCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Nov. 29, 2022) — The holiday season is a great time for family and friends to get together, but it can be a dangerous time for pets. But there are plenty of ways you can prepare and train your pets to ensure their safety during these times.

It is important to remember that holidays can be busy at veterinary hospitals. This is mostly due to pets being exposed to foods that can cause illness, toxic plants or gaining access to medications that can be lethal. So be prepared to take your pet to the emergency room if your regular vet is not available.

Foods that can be toxic to animals include chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts and onions. All of these have been linked to illness in dogs or cats, even when ingested in small doses. Foods that are high in fat, greasy or oily can also cause pancreatitis, an incredibly painful condition that requires hospitalization. It can take several weeks for pets to get back to normal.

To include your pet in the holiday treats, try some organic pureed sweet potato or pumpkin mixed with cooked green beans or carrots.

If your dog or cat is going to be near the kitchen and not actively supervised, it’s important to train them to obey solid “drop it” and “leave it” cues. Otherwise, it is safer not to allow access to the dining or kitchen area at all.

Toxic plants and medications

Toxic plants to watch out for around the house include hydrangeas, mistletoe, poinsettias, lilies and amaryllis. Medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and cold remedies are also potentially lethal toxins. Make sure that all medications and potentially toxic plants are completely out of reach.

If you think your pet has ingested something toxic, call your veterinarian immediately. You can also call pet poison control or go straight to the emergency room.

If you are planning on hosting guests during the holidays, it’s important to train pets that it’s OK for them to be handled by new people. This will help create a more comfortable and safer environment for everyone. And remember, it’s just as important to teach children to respect animals.

You can help your pet through positive encouragement and rewards when the pet does well with guests in the home. If strangers or young children make your pet feel uncomfortable, keep them in a separate space while guests are around.

Overall, the holiday season creates a fun and exciting time for both pets and people. Just remember to take extra precautions during this hectic time of year to keep your pet safe, healthy and, most importantly, happy.

Stephanie Zablah-Kruger
Stephanie Zablah-Kruger

Animal behaviorist, Stephanie Zablah-Kruger, 37, has 14 years’ experience in the veterinary field and as a trainer. Reach her at, (510) 408-7162.