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Protect your pets from common, and potentially costly, holiday hazards

The holidays can be a fun and festive time, but several seasonal staples can pose potential threats to furry friends at home. While enjoying favorite foods and seasonal décor, pet parents should be mindful of holiday hazards that may prompt unplanned veterinary visits.

Nationwide® pet insurance analyzed its database of more than 1.2 million insured pets and released its most common claims and average claim costs for medical conditions that can carry increased risk during the holidays:          

  • Ingestion of foreign objects – Tree ornaments, tinsel, ribbons, gift wrap and garlands are often swallowed by curious pets this time of year and, if ingested, may cause serious complications.
    • Average claim for foreign body ingestion: $2,400
  • Chocolate & caffeine toxicity – Chocolate is toxic for pets and should always be kept out of reach but the increased presence of sweet treats during the holidays heightens the risk. Among Nationwide claims for chocolate toxicity in a given year, 20% of those claims are submitted in December, with numbers doubling in the last two weeks alone.  
    • Average claim for chocolate toxicity: $618
  • Alcohol toxicity – Cups of cheer and empty bottles should be kept well out of pets’ reach to avoid unexpected trips to the emergency room.
    • Average claim for alcohol toxicity: $869
  • Poisoning from plant-based items – Holiday hallmarks like amaryllis, mistletoe, holly, holly berries or pine needles from the Christmas tree present various levels of toxicity. Marijuana and cannabis-based edibles, oils and other products containing THC or CBD may also cause illness.  
    • Average claim for plant, plant-based poisoning: $610
  • Burns & electric shock – Chewing on string lights or electrical cords can lead to electrical shock injuries or serious burns.
    • Average claim for burns: $180

Make Pet-Proofing a Holiday Tradition
“The majority of holiday-related health hazards are preventable, which is great news, but it does mean taking some extra steps to ensure that everyone in the family can safely enjoy traditions,” says Dr. Jules Benson, Vice President, Pet Health and Chief Veterinary Officer at Nationwide. “When it comes to preventing holiday health emergencies, it’s important to consider your pet’s personality. Our data shows that certain breeds and younger pets are at a higher risk for things like foreign body ingestion.  Pet parents should also take time to see their house from their pet’s perspective and pet-proof accordingly.”

To help with pet-proofing for the holidays, pet parents should ask themselves: What is at their pet’s eye level? What could be knocked over by a leaping cat or an enthusiastically wagging tail? Are there exposed wires or cords, low-hanging ornaments, candles, tree water, plants or floral arrangements, candy dishes, food items, garland, or anything else that pets may find new and exciting and want to play with or chew on? Block off areas that might prove too tempting, and crate pets that might get into mischief when you leave the house.

Nationwide’s digital platform, the Pet HealthZone®, is a free tool pet parents can use to determine their pet’s unique risk levels and learn about symptoms to watch for, what to expect at the vet, and potential costs associated with treatment of conditions like toxicity and foreign body ingestion

With Nationwide pet insurance, eligible veterinary expenses may be reimbursed based on the member’s chosen coverage. To explore pet health insurance coverage for dogs, cats and many avian and exotic pets, visit PetInsurance.com.