The Holiday Season is in full swing, and Santa Paws will soon be delivering presents to all of our very, very good boys (and girls!). While we prepare for a joy-filled Holiday and celebration of the New Year, take a moment to go over some helpful holiday safety tips for pets.
Pet Proof the Christmas Tree
Oh, the Christmas tree. A holiday staple in many homes, and the one addition to our living room that poses the largest threat to our furry friends! A Christmas tree that isn’t pet-proofed can result in upset stomachs, injury, or worse. Manage the danger of a Christmas tree by always supervising pets when they’re around the tree, and by taking special care to pet-proof your holiday decorations.
Ornaments. The ornaments on a Christmas tree can be attractive to pets. Most curious dogs and cats will want to inspect the odd tree that has suddenly appeared in their living rooms. Breakable ornaments are a double danger. If they shatter on the floor you can end up with cut paws, and if they’re chomped on you run the risk of mouth injury and ingestion. Try to keep all ornaments (especially the glass!) out of reach of pets.
Secure the Tree. A wobbly tree stand can make for a holiday disaster if your dog or cat decides to try to climb the evergreen. Check the bolts on your tree stand to be sure they’re secure, and consider adding a separate anchor, such as a ceiling hook with clear line or wall anchor, to prevent the tree from toppling over.
Don’t Drink the Tree Water. Did you know that the water in your tree stand can be dangerous to pets? As the tree soaks up water, it can release sometimes toxic sap into the water. Some fresh trees are also preserve with pesticides or given fertilizer water additives that include substances like aspirin. Aspirin is particularly dangerous to cats as they lack the ability to break down the drugs. While aspirin is occasionally prescribed to dogs, too much can also be deadly. The water reservoir in the tree stand should be tightly wrapped with a tree skirt or other material to prevent animals from accessing it.
String Lights and Tree-Trimmings. Festive lights, garland, and tinsel are a part of many of our holiday decorations. The flashing lights sure are pretty, but they can also pose a potential threat to your pet. Veterinarians say pets can easily die from electrocution, internal injuries, or intestinal blockage after enjoying a decorative snack. Be sure you fasten holiday lights to your tree and place cords out of reach of your curious pet’s mouth. Block access to any loose cords or wires. When eaten, things like garland and tinsel can result in intestinal blockages that could mean a trip to the emergency vet for your dog or cat.
Safe Holiday Plants
Three plants that are popular this time of year can also be potentially dangerous to pets. Whenever you bring a new plant into the home, be sure that it is pet-safe and monitor your curious pets when they’re around it.
Holly. English and Asian varieties of the holly plant can contain toxins that cause gastrointestinal issues when eaten.
Mistletoe. Not always for kissing, the leaves and berries of this common plant contain viscotoxins and can cause upset stomach and bradycardia.
Poinsettia. Typically thought of as the most dangerous holiday plant, the poinsettia flower is typically toxic only when ingested in large quantities. The sap from the plant can cause diarrhea, excessive drooling, and vomiting.
Holiday Bouquets. Holiday bouquets might contain any of the above plants, but may also contain flowers such a lilies, which are particularly hazardous to pets. Just a few bites of a lily plant is enough to cause potentially fatal kidney damage in cats.
Gifts, Candy, and Stockings
Make sure that your stockings are hung by the chimney with extra care this holiday to prevent pets from pulling them down and attempting to eat their contents! Avoid wrapping food items in boxes or hanging them in stockings, as your dog’s strong nose might inspire them to try to unwrap the goodies. Food puzzles are a great form of enrichment for dogs, but your holiday snacks and candies should not be part of the game. Gift wrap, small toys, ribbon and string, and bows should all be moved out of reach of dogs and cats to avoid injury.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. A consultation fee may apply.