Christmas is one of the most festive times of year, but it is also the most dangerous holiday for your pet. With the holiday decorating, baking and shopping, we tend to get side tracked and forget about our four-legged companions. Candy, plants and decorations are irresistible to pets, often resulting in an emergency trip to the veterinarian. Trust me, the last place you want to spend your time and money during the holiday season is with me at the emergency clinic. Here is a list of some of the most common hazards pets may face during this time of year.
A wonderful holiday tradition is decorating the Christmas tree, but remember your tree is loaded with dangerous temptations for your pet. Tinsel and ribbon are extremely attractive to cats and can cause choking or intestinal blockage if ingested. Avoid using them on your tree and on your presents. Pine needles can puncture the intestines, so keep the area clean. Move ornaments up high on the tree and secure your tree to the ceiling to prevent it from tipping or falling over.
Holiday lights pose a threat of electrocution. Even if your pet isn’t usually a chewer, something new and interesting will be attractive to them. Tie up the excess cords, cover them with rugs or wrap them up out of the way. Batteries are also dangerous when punctured, causing burns to the mouth and esophagus.
Everyone loves the smell of the holidays but certain aromatherapy items can also pose risks. Pets may knock over candles, catching their fur and/or your house on fire. If a pet licks liquid potpourri, it can cause severe burns of the mouth, gums, tongue and esophagus. Never leave a lit candle unattended and keep liquid potpourri out of reach of pets.
Many festive Christmas plants can be poisonous and deadly for a curious pet. Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause stomach upset and heart problems. Lilies of any type may cause kidney failure in cats. Contrary to belief, poinsettias are not toxic to pets but may still cause stomach upset if much of the plant is eaten.
Lastly are the dangers of the food we eat during the holiday season. With all of the parties and mass meals during this time, it is easy to forget leaving food around. Changes in a pet's diet — especially if it's being fed too much human food that is high in fat — can cause stomach upset with vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, it may lead to a dangerous and potentially deadly condition called pancreatitis. As tempting as it is, do not feed food to your pet and remind guests not to either.
As most of you know, chocolate is a dangerous treat to pets. Chocolate contains theobromine, an ingredient similar to caffeine, which causes the pets heart to race. The darker the chocolate the deadlier, with baker’s chocolate containing the highest amount of theobromine. Another sweetener called xylitol is very fatal to dogs. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener commonly used by diabetics that can cause low blood sugar and liver damage in dogs.
It does seem like a lot to be concerned with when it comes to your pets, and I hope this article doesn’t put a damper on your holiday spirit. Think of your pets as curious toddlers and “baby-proof” your house. With some extra precautions, you can make sure everyone, including your pets, has a safe and enjoyable Christmas.