Kittens playing with holiday decorations

Remember when you first brought home your best friend? In order to prevent accidents, you probably went a little crazy pet proofing the house and yard. Over time, of course, pets learn to leave certain things alone, or they gradually become disinterested in items that could potentially hurt them. 

No matter what your pet’s age this holiday season, the approach to their safety is much the same. Without constant vigilance, your pet could start chewing on and ingesting things that pose significant foreign body dangers.


Pets are naturally curious, and experience their surroundings through their senses of smell and taste. While this behavior can usually be innocuous, such as when dogs munch on grass, gnawing on certain things only available during the holidays can present life-threatening foreign body dangers.

Changes All Around

The holidays can create lots of other issues for pets, including routine disruptions, exposure to strangers, and increased stress or anxiety. All of these things can lead pets to find objects they wouldn’t normally have access to. 

Foreign body dangers are among the most common reasons behind holiday pet emergencies, but not if the pet experts can help it.

What We’re Actually Talking About

When cats and dogs eat something they shouldn’t, it can take up to a day for the object to move from their mouths, down the esophagus, into the stomach, and through the intestines. However, it’s not impossible for foreign bodies to remain in the GI tract for much longer. If they’re lucky, an object may be passed in the stool.

Foreign body dangers can obstruct the stomach outflow or the cause the intestines to bunch up like an accordion. If you ever see protruding objects, do not attempt to pull them out as this action can cause serious internal damage.

When You Know

The act of eating something off the floor around the holidays (or any time of year!) is super common for pets, but you may not know if they’re in danger until these symptoms of gastrointestinal distress appear:

  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Lethargy or weakness (caused by dehydration and electrolyte loss)
  • Abdominal pain or tenderness
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Diarrhea

Foreign body dangers should be reported without delay. Sometimes, we can simply feel an obstruction with our hands. Digital radiographs will give us more information about what was ingested and it’s exact location in the GI tract. Objects like cellophane wrap or textiles may not be as obvious as bones, batteries, or stones, but can be just as dangerous. Ultrasounds can also help us locate foreign body dangers.

Foreign Body Dangers

Intestinal walls can be perforated due to foreign body ingestion, leading to infection and sepsis. Because of this risk, it is critical that a pet is examined and treated immediately. Endoscopy or exploratory surgery may be suggested, as well as IV fluid therapy, pain medication, and possible antibiotic administration.

Preventing Pet Emergencies

At Springbrook Animal Care Center, your pet’s health is our number one priority. Please be sure that your pet never has access to the following foreign body dangers this holiday season:

  • Bones
  • Bread dough
  • Small swallowable items (ranging from button batteries to toothpicks)
  • Tinsel, ribbon or string
  • Wrapping paper or bows
  • Broken toys
  • String lights
  • Tape
  • Plastic wrap or tin foil
  • Corn cobs
  • Edible garlands

If we can assist your further with foreign body danger, please contact us. We wish you and your pet a very happy (and safe) holiday season!