A grey and white cat sitting on the ground.

The world is full of smells, tastes, and sights that are beyond tempting to our four-legged friends, especially during the holidays. Unfortunately, this can present a very real danger to our pet’s safety and well-being, especially if something is consumed that shouldn’t be.

Foreign body dangers to pets are not just unique to this time of year, since pets, and especially dogs, have a knack for eating things they shouldn’t. The holidays in particular pose specific foreign body consumption risks that have to do with decorations, food, trees, and gifts. 

Your Pet Expert team at Naperville Animal Hospital want to education pet owners on these seasonal problems, so you can keep the “holly jolly” in your holidays. 

8 Holiday Foreign Body Dangers to Be Aware Of

Keeping your pet from eating something they shouldn’t is a problem most pet owners relate to. Chow hound pups and curious felines have a way of ingesting small items, food items, and things that smell good, then end up at the veterinary emergency hospital. Here are some of the more common culprits that can be ingested.

  1. Bones – Meat and poultry bones are a definite problem when a pet gets ahold of them. First, they can cause choking if swallowed whole, and second, they can splinter in the gastro-intestinal tract, causing even more issues. These fragments can cause mouth and throat lacerations, as well as gastrointestinal punctures and bleeding.

  2. Tinsel and curling string – Tinsel is one of the number one offenders of pet emergencies this time of year. Cats are particularly fond of chewing on curling string and tinsel. The problem is that these strings get eaten and then pass through the digestive system where they can get lodged or attached to the intestine. This can then create a blockage that is serious and requires surgery. Stay away from all tinsel and string-like decor.

  3. Small toys – Tiny parts of toys that can be put together, like legos, little people, and other manger scene displays, can appear as something to be chewed on by Fido. Supervise your pet when these toys are being used, and stash them in a closet when your child isn’t playing with them. Scan floors for small toys that might have fallen behind or under furniture. Nerf darts are also a major offender when it comes to pet safety (if they are consumed)

  4. Edible ornaments – Many edible ornaments contain glue, paste, and small bobbles and gems that can cause a problem if eaten. Plus, they may contain the sugar substitute Xylitol that is quite toxic. If the ornaments smells like food, consider it a foreign body hazard.
  1. Corn cobs – Corn cobs can cause a choking hazard and can often be found haphazardly sticking out of the compost bin or trash. Be aware of these leftovers and cover up any bins and trash containers to keep nosy pooches out.

  2. Foil – Foil may seem like a strange choice for your pet to eat, but when the foil has been wrapped in meat drippings or anything tasty, you can understand why. Throw away any used foil from the grill or in the kitchen to avoid having your pet scarf it down.

  3. Tape – Gift wrapping tape is everywhere after a frenzied morning of opening gifts. Be aware that your pet will want to chew through their gifts to get to the goodies and might accidentally ingest paper and tape. Use wrapping that doesn’t require tape, or place their items in decorative bags.

  4. Decorations – Christmas bulbs and other small decorations on the tree can prove to be something your pet wants to play with. Glass and breable bulbs can cause injury if broken, and ornaments smaller than your pet’s mouth can cause them if they put them in their mouth.

If your pet ingests a foreign body, the symptoms can develop right away or over time. The following symptoms are red flags:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing/choking
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to keep food or drink down
  • No longer eliminating 
  • Lethargy

If you suspect your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have, call us right away or call the closest animal emergency hospital.