(COLORADO SPRINGS) — With Christmas coming up in a few days, pet parents need to be wary of the potential dangers during the winter months.

An analysis of Google trends shows that searches for ‘ER vet’ typically see a peak in the U.S. during the last two weeks of December.

The Special Reports Team at Veterinarians.org said they analyzed data from Google Trends from December 2020 and ending in January 2021, in order to determine where searches for ‘ER vet’ were the highest, and Coloradans may be dismayed to know, it’s not good news for our beloved four-legged friends.

Not only was Colorado the top spot for ER vet searches for the end of 2020, it also ranked in the top 10 over the five-year period from December 2016 to December 2021 for states where searches for ‘ER vet’ have been the most popular overall. Utah ranked as #1. 

The highest volume of searches for emergency veterinarians by state, Dec. 2020 – Jan 2021:

  1. Colorado
  2. Georgia
  3. Alabama
  4. Virginia
  5. Missouri
  6. North Carolina
  7. Florida
  8. Ohio
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Washington
  11. California
  12. Illinois
  13. Texas

Veterinarians.org said the most common holiday hazards for pets include toxic plants, anti-freeze, rock salt, wired lights, broken ornaments, and toxic foods.

They also provided a list of holiday pet safety tips, to keep your furry friends safe and healthy this season.

Christmas Trees

Christmas trees often attract the attention of dogs and cats alike. However, if a tree is not securely anchored, it can potentially fall onto and injure an animal. Tree water also poses a danger, as bacteria is known to grow and thrive in sitting water, which may cause gastrointestinal upset in an animal if ingested, as can any added Christmas tree fertilizer. 

After securing a Christmas tree to a wall or ceiling, pet owners should block the tree off with a playpen, baby gate, or other barrier to keep pets safe while additionally covering the tree stand with aluminum foil to discourage pets from drinking from it.

Mistletoe, Holly, and Other Seasonal Plants

The ASPCA receives over a quarter of a million cases of potential animal poisonings per year. Plants are the eighth-most reported pet toxin and account for 40% of all calls. Seasonal plants such as mistletoe, holly, lilies, azaleas, evergreens, and poinsettias are all toxic to animals. Ingestion of such plants can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and in some cases, even cardiovascular issues. Cats in particular are especially vulnerable to lilies, which can cause kidney failure if ingested. 

In a home filled with pets, artificial plants are the safest option when it comes to holiday decor. There are many pet-friendly plants available to select from which will keep companion animals safe. 

Anti-Freeze and Ice Melt

Ethylene glycol, an ingredient commonly found in anti-freeze, is deadly to animals. Pet owners should opt for a brand that omits this ingredient and labels itself as ‘non-toxic.’ 

As for rock salt, this commonly used ice melt is an irritant to paw pads. If an animal licks irritated paws as a result of walking on rock salt, ingesting the chemical can cause vomiting. Ice melts with a propylene glycol base are a safer alternative for households with animals. 

Lights and Batteries

Electrical cords, such as those attached to wired holiday lights, can be an especially dangerous hazard to animals. If chewed on, such cords may result in an electric shock that can be potentially lethal to a pet. 

Pet owners should always hang tree lights on high branches while also protecting electrical cords with cord covers or double-sided tape and additionally keeping cords out of sight where possible. Pet owners should also keep batteries out of a pet’s reach, both those that operate holiday decor and those included in new Christmas gifts. Batteries may contain zinc, which can cause pancreatitis in an animal if ingested. 

Food and Alcohol 

While it may seem harmless to share human food with a pet, foods are one of many pet toxins popularly reported to the ASPCA, making up more than 20% of all poison-related calls. 

Ornaments and Tinsel

Ornaments are another danger to pets. Shards of broken ornaments can cut a pet’s mouth and tear into the animal’s digestive tract. Pet owners should always hang breakable ornaments out of a pet’s reach or opt for pet-safe, non-toxic, and non-edible ornaments to decorate the Christmas tree.  

Cats are especially drawn to tinsel and other types of ribbons, but if ingested, these items can cause an obstruction in a cat‘s digestive tract, which can lead to vomiting and severe dehydration. In many cases, surgery may be the only means of removing the obstruction.