Army Capt. Kelsy Abell

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Nov. 25, 2019) – The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes some unique hazards for our pets.

Here are some tips from the Fort Leonard Wood Veterinary Treatment Facility to keep your pets safe and happy this holiday season:

Don’t lose track of pets

Pets are at a higher risk of getting lost in new or unknown environments.

Ensure your pet is wearing ID tags with contact information and that their microchip number (if applicable) has a current phone number associated with it.

Don’t know if your pet’s microchip is properly registered with the right information? Go to and enter your pet’s microchip number.

Your pet’s microchip number should populate and display your information. If you don’t know your pet’s microchip number, look at your pet’s veterinary records or call their veterinarian.

You can always bring your pet by their veterinarian’s office to scan their microchip number, as well.

If the information is out of date, contact the company that your pet’s microchip is registered through.

Keep pets from human food

A common reason pets visit the veterinarian during the holiday season is due to eating food that they are not used to or is toxic to them.

Keep trash cans inaccessible and monitor what kind of human food your pet is getting.

Dogs should not eat any type of bones — especially poultry — as they can cause intestinal blockage or other serious, potentially life-threatening issues if swallowed.

Remember that chocolate and candies containing xylitol are toxic to dogs in certain amounts. If your pet has ingested any of these things, or you aren’t sure if what they ate can harm them, then a call to a veterinarian is warranted.

Decorating safely

Carefully monitor Christmas trees and other holiday décor if you have a house with pets. Properly secure your Christmas tree so that it will not tip or fall.

Consider using plastic instead of glass ornaments. Refrain from using tinsel for tree decorating. Cats love to play with tinsel, and it can be extremely dangerous if swallowed.

If using a live tree, do not allow pets to drink the tree water as the water stagnates after a period of time, and they can become very sick.

Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias and lilies can cause a variety of ailments if ingested.

Be ready to call your veterinarian

Most importantly, be prepared for the unexpected. Know what veterinary clinics are open for after-hours emergency care in your area and have their contact information readily available.

If your pet has ingested something it shouldn’t, you can call the Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435 and they can assist you in evaluating if what your pet ate was toxic, and what the treatment recommendation is.

The team at the Fort Leonard Wood Veterinary Treatment Facility hopes you have a safe and happy holiday season with your pets.

(Editor’s note: Abell is the Fort Leonard Wood Veterinary Treatment Facility branch chief.)

Capt. Chris Magee performs a routine puppy exam at the Fort Leonard Wood Veterinary Treatment Facility. U.S. Army photo.


About Fort Leonard Wood

Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post more than 75 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains more than 80,000 military and civilians each year.

Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.

Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps Detachment and Air Force Squadron on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.

More information about Fort Leonard Wood is at: