Holiday Pet Safety

Tis the season for your pets to explore all the interesting things us humans call “decorations”!

But let’s talk about food, first. Just like overindulging at the holidays isn’t exactly healthy for people, it’s not great for pets, either. In my family, the dogs know who the softies are. My grandmother usually has a devoted follower or two. Uncle Ed usually has at least one dog parked at his side, taking advantage of just about everything on his plate. And I’m willing to admit that I am a total sucker when it comes to the chin-on-the-knee trick. The dogs know it, too.

Some things I never ever share:

1. Chocolate. Chocolate is a doggy no-no! In large doses, it can be toxic.

2. Turkey/chicken bones. Too small, too easily splintered by the power chewers.

3. Alcohol. Your dog weighs about as much as a five year old. Would you give a five year old a beer?

But holiday dangers aren’t just limited to food. If you’ve got a Christmas tree up, there’s a whole heap of potential problems there.

1. Christmas tree water can give your dog or cat an upset stomach for a variety of reasons. The water may have fertilizers. And water that sits a while can breed all sorts of bacteria. Either way, if you don’t want an extra gift of dog barf under your tree… don’t let them drink it!

2. Electric cords to light your tree or run that train set are so tempting to chew! Cover or hide your electric cords so your pet doesn’t risk electrocution by taking a nibble.

3. Gift ribbons and tinsel can cause some serious problems. They can get caught up in the intestines and cause obstructions. But if your pet eats tinsel and you see it start to come out the other end – DO NOT PULL! You could cause more damage. Snip the ribbon short (so your other pets aren’t tempted to play) and call your vet. They may tell you to just let nature take its course… and in a few days you’ll get a shiny present in the backyard!

4. Glass ornaments can cause all sorts of internal damage if ingested. You may want to use your glass pretties in other ways, to keep them out of dog’s way. A bowl of ornaments would be a lovely centerpiece for the table. My mom hangs her favorite ornaments in the windows and doorways and puts the more durable ones on the tree.

5. Batteries are corrosive and can damage the mouth, tongue, and the entire intestinal tract. Keep them in their packages until you’re ready to put them into toys and electronics, and store the rest in a cabinet or drawer your pets can’t get into!

And if all that wasn’t bad enough… there’s the dangers of traditional holiday plants.

1. Poinsettia actually got kind of a bad reputation. They can cause irritation and discomfort, but aren’t toxic except in large quantities. I’m not suggesting you make your pets a poinsettia salad for dinner or anything, but you don’t have to freak out if your cat eats a leaf or two.

2. Mistletoe, however, is dangerous. Just one or two berries can be fatal. It can also cause cardiovascular problems. If you don’t want to give up mistletoe entirely, I’ve heard the plastic kind gets you kisses just as well as the real kind.

3. Holly can cause all sorts of stomach upset for your cat or dog. Plus, I can’t imagine all those points feel very nice in your mouth when you’re chewing.

4. Many types of lilies can cause kidney failure cats. Keep your holiday flower arrangements away from your kitties if they include Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Easter, Stargazer, or Casa Blanca lilies.

And one last holiday safety tip: with all the people going in and out of your house this holiday season, make sure your pets don’t escape! If you’re having a party at your place, keep the pets in a safe room until all the guests have arrived. If your dog or cat is nervous around a lot of strangers, they may want to skip the party altogether.

Happy Holidays!!
Aimee, Lally Beeber, and Moose