The holiday season is a time for colorful decorations, delicious foods, and family and friends to share them with. With a few helpful tips, you can include your furry family members in your holiday planning and keep your pets stay safe to enjoy this special time of year, too!
Bulbs, Tinsel, Ribbons and Wrapping Paper
Pets may be drawn to holiday decorations that can cause them harm. Glass bulbs may be shiny and attractive, but they are potentially harmful if shattered and eaten. Even things as harmless looking as tinsel, ribbons and wrapping paper can create a serious digestive problem when swallowed.
Candles can cause burns and fires. Never leave lit candles unattended or within reach of your pet – including the tail. Also try to keep tablecloths and table runners from hanging too low to the ground, tempting happy dogs to grab an end and pull!
Ornamental plants are a great way to dress up the house during the holidays but many can cause gastrointestinal upset and, if enough plant material is eaten, seizures, coma or even death. Check the plants for any signs of chewing or missing leaves. Poinsettia plants are considered mildly toxic, depending on how much the pet eats. Most pets won’t eat enough of a Christmas tree or Poinsettia plant to experience any discomfort. Mistletoe and Holly, on the other hand, are considered moderately to severely toxic to pets and should be kept well out of reach or avoided altogether. If your pet starts vomiting, has diarrhea or abdominal pain, excessive drooling, tremors or seizures – consult your veterinarian immediately.
Lighting and Electrical Cords
Special decorating that involves lights and electrical cords, may be tempting for the inquisitive dog or cat. Do not leave exposed cords where your pup or kitten plays. You can enclose them in regular PVC pipe from the hardware store or plastic casing from computer or household supply stores. There are products available at pet supply stores, such as Bitter Apple, to spray on cords to discourage chewing by making them taste bad. If you suspect that your pet has chewed an electrical cord, monitor his mouth for burns and watch for any or difficulty breathing. If any symptoms develop, consult your veterinarian right away.
If you are going out or unable to supervise your pet, unplug any electrical cords accessible in the pet’s area. Kittens, and some dogs, are climbers so be sure to secure lamps that can be knocked over. Replace burned out light bulbs right away. If you don’t have a bulb, leave the burned out bulb in place temporarily or unplug the lamp. The light socket is electrically charged and dangerous on a lamp that is plugged in without a light bulb in the socket.
You know your pet best so you can anticipate how they will react to holiday visitors. Make a space available in a quiet room, away from commotion and front door traffic, and provide classical music, a soft bed, water, food and toys. Adding a piece of your clothing to the bed can provide comfort. Using a pet gate to separate them from the main foot traffic or having them stay at a friend’s house during a party may be best.
The holiday and party foods we enjoy cooking and eating can be a problem for your pet. Tell your guests the food rules for your pets. Rich, spicy or fatty food or anything your pet is not accustomed to eating can cause problems ranging from stomach upset to severe pancreatitis. Even healthy pets can require a trip to the emergency vet if they ingest too much rich, fatty food. Make sure they have healthy treats and reduce their food at mealtime accordingly.
Additionally, don’t leave candy out. Chocolate can be fatal to animals, especially cats and small dogs. Alcoholic beverages are also toxic to pets and uncooked meat, poultry, fish, and bones are also hazardous.