The holidays are a time to spend with loved ones – especially those with fur. And, of course, you want to ensure your dog or cat joins in the festive fun. Unfortunately, many of our favorite human holiday treats can be harmful to our pets. That is why we here at The COVE are sharing safe and pet-approved gifts and treats that will spark joy.

Prevention 🚨

Nobody wants to spend the holidays in the emergency room, so give one of the best gifts you can – prevention. Dogs and cats might be curious about the new holiday decorations and the sweet and savory aroma of the kitchen. However, many of our favorite dishes and décor can be harmful to both dogs and cats. So, make sure to follow these essential holiday safety tips:

  • Secure decorations including Christmas trees, ornaments, and menorahs
  • Avoid toxic holiday plants (Poinsettias, lilies) and opt-in for artificial options
  • Keep curious pets out of the kitchen, especially when cooking with chocolate, raisins, grapes, and foods with xylitol (artificial sweetener)

For a more detailed list of what to avoid this holiday season, please read our detailed list of Holiday Safety Tips.  

Preparation 🎄

Being prepared for a pet emergency is essential, especially during this busy time of year. In addition to following holiday safety tips, it is critical to be prepared and know exactly what to do and where to go in an emergency.

Whether you are traveling or staying close to home, make sure you know the nearest 24/7 emergency animal hospital location. Please keep this information in a visible spot if you or your pet’s caregiver need it quickly. The COVE is open 24/7 for emergencies. You may reach us anytime at 757-935-9111.

If your dog or cat does require medical attention, have these items nearby:

  • A pet first-aid kit at home and in the car.
  • A pet insurance plan in place (before you need it)!  We understand emergencies are unexpected and can be costly; however, most animal insurance policies cover urgent and advanced medical care.

Pet-Friendly Treats 🥕

Most of our favorite holiday treats are not safe for pets to eat. However, many fresh vegetables and fruits are safe and delicious for pets.

  • Apples (slices only – no seeds or core)
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Carrots
  • Corn (off the cob)
  • Green beans
  • Melon
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin (fresh – not pumpkin pie filling)
  • Spinach
  • Winter squash

You can get creative and bake safe dog treats with peanut butter. However, avoid using types of peanut butter that includes the sugar substitute xylitol.

Avoid giving slices of turkey or ham to dogs since those often contain fatty pieces of meat which can cause life-threatening pancreatitis. Also, never give your dog a turkey bone, which can be easily swallowed or splinter and cause injury. Keep the foods fresh and always in moderation.

Pet-Friendly Gifts 🎁

Include pets in your family’s holiday by giving them veterinarian-approved gifts. For cats, we recommend interactive toys and scratching posts that keep them moving. Squeaky toys, balls, and soft chew toys are fun and stimulating gifts for dogs. Another fun idea for cats and dogs is a puzzle feeder, which allows pets to “hunt” for their food. Add a few pieces of their favorite kibble or treat and watch them “work” for it – this is great to help fast eaters slow down and help with enrichment for older pets. 

However, just because something is sold as a treat for pets does not make it safe. The FDA warns against bone treats since certain types have caused major illnesses in dogs. Additionally, hard chew toys can easily be broken and ingested by dogs, leading to an emergency visit and surgery to remove the foreign object. Also, very hard toys can easily break teeth. Keep the toys soft!

A Pet’s Favorite Gift? You! 💝

During this busy season and these crazy times, make sure to spend quality time with your pet. Before you start your family’s celebration, take your dog for a nice long walk. Don’t forget to play with your cat and even try out their new toy together for extra stimulation.

We understand pets are part of your family, so incorporate them into your family’s holiday traditions. But if your dog or cat is startled or overwhelmed by houseguests or unfamiliar activity, provide them with a safe place to relax on their own with their favorite toys and treats.

A calm, happy, and healthy furry companion is the best gift for a pet parent. The entire team at The COVE wishes you and your furry loved ones a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season. And if you need us, we remain open 24/7 for emergency care.

About Us

The COVE’s veterinarians and staff wholeheartedly embrace the core values of community, collaboration, commitment, compassion, and integrity. This focus ensures that pets, the people who love them, and their primary care veterinarians have as positive and affirming a healthcare experience as possible, regardless of the circumstances that bring us all together.