The Fall and Winter months include a number of holidays. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Day, among others, and should be times of happiness and celebration. Pet emergencies can totally ruin the celebratory spirit. They can be emotionally stressful, not to mention expensive. Here are some tips to help ensure a pet emergency doesn’t put a damper on holiday cheer for you and your pet.

Always Be Prepared

Be prepared in case a pet emergency does arise. Any sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea, and/or seizures may signal that your pet is in distress and needs to be seen by a veterinarian. We are fortunate to have three great emergency hospitals in this area. Keep the phone number and address of at least one emergency hospital handy, just in case we are not available at Applebrook. Pre-plan your travel route so no time is wasted driving around trying to find an emergency hospital. We have free maps to the local Animal ERs at Applebrook, just ask!

Veterinary Care and Specialty Group

3201 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN 37408 (423) 591-0270

*If you have been to VCSG before, note that it has recently moved to a new location on Broad


Animal Emergency and Specialty Group

6393 Lee Hwy, Chattanooga, TN 37421 (423) 822-8304


2132 Amnicola Hwy, Chattanooga, TN 37406 (423) 698-4612

If you have reason to believe your pet has eaten something he/she shouldn’t have, you may want to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435. (Note that a fee may apply).

Be sure to keep our number here at Applebrook handy as well (423-238-PETS). If we are open, just give us a call. We will work you in as soon as possible.


At Applebrook, we generally frown on feeding pets people food. Sure, we have pets and love to include them in the fun, but many of the foods we eat are not just unhealthy for our pets, some can be downright hazardous to them. It’s important to recognize these, so that you don’t feed them to your pet. Also, plan ahead to minimize the risk of your pet accidentally ingesting any of these foods. If you just have to feed your pet something festive, it’s best to make or purchase healthy treats formulated just for pets, but don’t overdo it.

Toxic Foods

Yes, some people food can poison our pets. Foods and ingredients that can be toxic to pets include chocolate, onions, garlic, chives, leaks, grapes and raisins, and coffee and tea. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in some baked goods, sugar free candy, and chewing gum, is extremely toxic to dogs.

Foods That May Cause Digestive Upset

A pet with vomiting and diarrhea is never fun, but around the holidays a sick pet will most certainly ruin the festive mood.  Some human foods, like turkey skin, may have enough fat to cause pancreatitis, which can be severe and life-threatening for your pet. You should always follow good consumer food safety practices for you and your pet. Uncooked meat, poultry, and seafood products can be a source of harmful bacteria for us and our pets. Even raw yeast dough can cause gas and bloating in your pet. Additionally, cooked leftovers that are not promptly refrigerated can also be a source of harmful bacteria. Don’t overlook the importance of promptly taking out trash containing food scraps as a way of protecting your pets.


Always consider potential threats that holiday decorations may pose to your pets. Water additives for greenery and Christmas trees can be toxic to your pet if they drink the water. It’s best not to use any additives, including sugar or aspirin. Pets may also be tempted to play with decorations. Secure things like Christmas trees to ensure it doesn’t tip over and harm your pet. Broken ornaments are hazards that may also cause injuries or be ingested. Sometimes it is amazing what pets will play with and eat. Surgery to remove Christmas tree lights from the intestinal tract is not good for your pet, and it can do extensive damage to your holiday budget. Electric cords for lights can also cause electric shock and thermal burns if chewed by a pet. Overall, try to avoid leaving your pet unsupervised in an area with holiday decorations.

Fear, Anxiety, and Stress

Finally, don’t overlook the fact that visitors and the excitement of the holidays can create unnecessary and harmful emotional distress in pets. Please provide a safe, comfortable, and quiet place for your pet to retreat to if they want. If you know that your pet is typically nervous around visitors, go ahead and put them in their safe place before guests arrive. Place your pet in another room or a crate with a favorite toy. Some pets may benefit from medication or even boarding with us to help alleviate anxiety and stress, so be sure and discuss this with us beforehand. If you pet inadvertently gets out while guests are coming or going, that creates stressful situation for you and your pet. Watch the exists closely! Don’t forget that microchips, identification tags, and locator tags can ensure your pet is likely to be returned should he or she sneak out. We offer microchip implantation at Applebrook as well and frequently have discounted prices on them.

Being aware and planning ahead can make the holidays a lot more PAWsome!

By William Pepper, DVM

Dr. Pepper is an associate veterinarian at Applebrook Animal Hospital. He helps our Appebrook pets stay safe, happy and healthy and we thank him for taking time from his busy patient schedule to write this blog to help all of you keep your pets as safe as possible as 2020 draws to a close!