Preventing pet emergencies over the holidays

Preventing pet emergencies over the holidays - Cat and dog sneaking milk and cookies

Pet emergencies are common during the holidays and can be complicated due to travel, holiday decorations, dietary indiscretions, and veterinarian office closures. But, with a little knowledge and preparation, you can relax and enjoy the holiday season by:

Keeping your pet safe around holiday decorations and food

While we all enjoy the holiday season, the festivities also pose hazards for your pet. You can minimize unwanted emergencies during the holidays, whether traveling or staying at home, by following this holiday checklist on how to keep your pet safe during the holidays.

  • Keep holiday trinkets and trimmings out of your pet’s reach at all times
  • Use a dog crate or gate to limit access to hazardous areas while you are out of the house
  • Make sure any holiday plants are pet safe before placing them in your home
  • Secure your Christmas tree so it can’t fall over
  • Monitor pets (especially cats) at all times around your tree and any lit candles
  • Bundle up and secure any loose ends of your holiday lights
  • Consider using battery powered candles instead of actual flames
  • Avoid giving table scraps to your pets and ask your relatives to refrain from doing so.
  • Make sure your guests or hosts are aware of pets in the home

It’s important that you monitor your pet’s behavior closely during the holidays. If they are exhibiting symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea, or vomiting, consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible.

How can I be prepared for a pet emergency during the holidays?

Despite our best efforts and plans, emergencies can still occur at any time. It’s important to be prepared, especially during the holidays when many vet clinics have more limited hours and you might be away from your local clinic. Whether traveling with your furry companion or staying home for the holidays, being prepared will give you peace of mind and could make all the difference when unforeseen circumstances rear their ugly heads.

““Emergencies are scary under the best of circumstances,” says Vetster veterinarian Dr. Jo Myers. “Navigating a difficult situation is easier if you have a plan for where to start.” If you are staying home for the holidays, make sure you check your vet clinic’s holiday hours in advance. If your clinic has closures planned, it’s a good idea to have a back up contact available so you don’t lose any time in an urgent situation. Many cities have emergency vet clinics available 24/7. Either check online or ask your veterinarian for recommendations.

If you’re traveling to visit family and friends for the holidays, look for veterinarians in the area you are traveling to and find out what their holiday schedule is. As is the case at home, it’s prudent to have a primary and backup contact prepared in advance.

Traveling safely with your pet during the holidays

Whether to travel with your pet or not is a question pet owners face when planning extended vacations. If you are nervous about boarding your pet, consider hiring a sitter or walker as a first option. If you do opt to take your pet with you, consult your vet about any required paperwork or other important plans you may need to make for your furry friend. A vet can help you make an informed decision on whether you should fly, drive, or travel with your pet at all.

If you want to travel by plane with your dog, check with the airline to see what their pet policies are. Health certificates are required for interstate travel with pets, and international health certificates can take months to prepare. Airlines may also have size and breed restrictions, carrier requirements, and other policies you will need to follow. It can be complicated and time-consuming to meet all the requirements, so make sure you understand everything you need to do before purchasing a ticket for your pet.

When traveling by car, there are other steps you need to take to keep your pet safe. The same requirements for health certificates for interstate and international travel apply. Plan to stop frequently to give your pet a break. Make sure their collar or harness and leash or pet carrier are secure and remember to take plenty of food, water, and treats. If your pet is on any medications, be sure to pack those as well. Taking a road trip with your pet is a great way to spend time together, plus you get to stop and enjoy the sights along the way.

Traveling with your pet during the holidays can be fun and enjoyable — and safe — with a little preparation ahead of time.

Another step you can take to be better prepared during the holiday season is to create a free account for your pet on Vetster. Thousands of top-rated licensed vets are available on Vetster 24/7. You can also chat live with a registered vet tech for free 8AM to 10PM Mon to Fri EST. All you need is an internet connection and your smartphone for peace of mind this holiday season.

FAQ - How to manage pet emergencies over the holidays

My dog ate a part of a toy. What should I do?

You should always consult with your vet if your pet has consumed a foreign object. Gastrointestinal blockages can be life-threatening. If your dog appears weak, lethargic, has abdominal pain or swelling, or is vomiting, seek veterinary attention immediately.

My dog ate an Ibuprofen. Should I be concerned?

Even though it’s safe for humans, ibuprofen is toxic to dogs and cats. Always check with a veterinarian before giving your dog any medication.  Contact animal poison control if you think your pet has eaten something toxic.

My cat has diarrhea. Should I be concerned?

Diarrhea occurs in cats for various reasons. Contact a vet if diarrhea lasts for more than 48 hours, or if your cat is elderly, pregnant, unvaccinated, has a preexisting condition, or is a young kitten.

The Vetster Editorial Team is comprised of seasoned writers and communicators dedicated to elevating stories about Vetster, pets and their owners.
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