The holiday season is filled with so many tempting treats for both you and your pets! But some of these tempting “treats” can pose serious threats to pets. Dangling ornaments, chocolates, trees to climb (in the house!), new plants to nibble, and turkey to steal.
Batten down the hatches! Or the tree as it were. Many cats find a real tree in their home too tempting to avoid and will quickly scramble up to the top. Unfortunately, Christmas trees are typically not well “rooted” and tend to tip over when cats are scrambling around in the limbs. Secure your Christmas tree to the walls or ceiling with fishing line to avoid a top heavy tree crashing to the floor.
Edible garland. While edible garland is not actually meant to be eaten, your cat or dog may not have gotten that memo! Eating the popcorn or cranberries may cause some intestinal upset and may not seem like such a big deal, but the string that holds everything together can cause a major intestinal problem called “intussusception” in which the intestines accordion or gather up. Major abdominal surgery is the only way this can be repaired.
Glittery ornaments and tinsel. Dangling ornaments and tinsel are tempting toys waiting to be played with. Cats love to paw at these hanging ornaments, and shiny silver tinsel can be mesmerizing. Dogs may see those glittery Christmas ornaments as a tree full of balls to fetch. Pets may accidentally swallow these objects resulting in intestinal problems including intestinal injury or blockage. Tinsel, or “icicles”, should be avoided if you have cats in the house. When accidentally ingested, tinsel is considered a “linear foreign body” and can cause very serious intestinal problems (see intussusception above).
The best bet is to keep your pet away from your Christmas tree by using pet gates or closing the door to the room unless your pet is supervised.
Christmas plants. Amaryllis, paper whites, holly, and mistletoe are beautiful additions to our homes, but can be toxic to dogs and cats if ingested. The toxins in these plants have various effects including gastrointestinal upset, respiratory distress, and even heart failure. Place Christmas plants out of reach of curious pets.
Fire’s burning. Warm fires and candles go hand in hand with the holidays. Be sure to supervise your pets around fireplaces as getting too close can cause contact burns. Lit candles can cause house fires if a cat or dog accidentally knocks them over with a flick of their tail. Use open flames very carefully with pets in the house or use battery powered candles instead.
Christmas goodies. Over indulgence is a common phenomenon at Christmas! It is so hard to resist all the Christmas goodies, turkey, gravy, and Grandma’s green bean casserole. But our pets are sensitive to these high fat table foods and certain ingredients can be toxic to pets. Chocolate is well known to be toxic to cats and dogs, and festive alcoholic beverages or rum-soaked fruitcake can severely compromise your pet’s health. Turkey, gravy, and other rich holiday foods can cause pancreatitis. But don’t despair, your pet can join in with the Christmas spirit! Make sure pet friendly treats are available for you and your guests to give your pets.
By taking a few precautions, you can make sure that your holiday memories are all good ones!
Happy Holidays to you and your furry friends!