Top 10 Holiday Safety Tips for Pets

The holiday season is a time of giving and joy for many families. However, for pets, there are some dangers that come along with the holiday festivities. During this season, it is important to keep in mind some of the hazards for pets while still enjoying the holidays together.

Pets are attracted to bright lights much in the same way kids are. Low-hanging ornaments, tinsel, and twinkling Christmas lights all pose a threat to pets. Here are some things to remember regarding decorations this holiday season.

 

 

1. Pine Trees Can Be Poisonous

Real trees add a sense of holiday magic to any home, but pets are mischievous creatures and may tend to want to snoop around. The water used to keep your tree fresh once in your home will absorb the chemicals used to keep the tree fresh beforehand. These may include preservatives, pesticides, and fertilizers, or even aspirin, all of which are potentially harmful to pets. To avoid any unwanted medical visits, use a covered tree stand or wrap the top of an open stand with tin foil to deter pets from drinking the water.

Pine needles and oil are also mildly toxic. While pine oil can irritate the GI tract and cause excessive drooling or vomiting, the needles are also hard to digest and can cause GI obstruction or even a puncture, depending on the type. As always, the amount of trouble depends on the amount ingested.

 

2. Ornaments Are a Choking Hazard

Avoid hanging “edible” ornaments on lower branches, such as festive dog treats or gingerbread men. Avoid using “toy” ornaments that resemble typical toys your pet is normally allowed to play with. This will help lessen the confusion on your pet’s part. This includes tinsel and ribbons, which could cause obstructions within the GI tract if ingested.

 

3a. Mistletoe, Holly, and Poinsettias Are Poisonous

Mistletoe, holly, and poinsettias are considered to be moderately to severely toxic to pets as well as humans. Each plant contains chemicals that can cause diarrhea, excessive drooling, head shaking, loss of appetite, pawing at the mouth, spots of blood in the mouth, and vomiting.

 

3b. Lilies are Fatal to Cats

If you have a cat, you also want to avoid lilies (of all varieties) as those are FATAL to kitties (including the pollen and the vase water). If your cat has ingested any part of a lily, bring him/her to the emergency room immediately.

4. Conceal Cables to Avoid Accidents

Securing and hiding all cables lessens the risk of any pet not only pulling down your tree, but also accidently electrocuting themselves if they're a chewer.

 

While it is tempting to spoil our pets with human food, it is not always safe. Keep some of these dangers in mind when enjoying those holiday feasts:

5. Dark and Baking Chocolate Contain High Levels of Caffeine and Theobromine

We've all heard it a hundred times, but it's very important to remember. Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate, contains high levels of caffeine and theobromine. Theobromine is a chemical humans can digest quickly, but dogs cannot. The slower digestion period allows for the chemical to build up and reach toxic levels at a quicker rate. Due to this, chocolate ingestion can be fatal.

 

6. Xylitol Is Poisonous to Dogs

This sugar substitute can cause a dog's blood sugar to drop fairly quickly. While this type of poisoning is easy to treat, if it is not caught soon enough, it will result in liver failure.

 

7. Macadamia Nuts Can Cause Temporary Muscle Weakness

For reasons that are still a mystery to the veterinary world, dogs are the only species that have had this reaction to macadamia nuts. Symptoms include vomiting, ataxia (unsteady gait) or weakness, fever, muscle tremors, and depression.

 

8. Bread Dough Continues to Rise Once Ingested

Ingested dough can result in an internal blockage or bloat, and the yeast can also produce alcohol, so store that rising dough in a safe place to make sure your pets cannot get into it.

 

9. Leftovers Can Cause Serious Harm

Not only can bones shatter once ingested and poke holes in your pets stomach and GI tract, corn cobs can pose a choking hazard and other common ingredients such as grapes, onions, and garlic can be toxic. Make sure all leftovers from your big holiday meal are properly stored or disposed of in places your pets can't find a way into.

 

10. Alcohol Can Cause Serious Problems

Alcohol poisoning is very serious in pets and can cause vomiting, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma, and even death. Deliberately getting a pet drunk is considered animal cruelty and is punishable by law.

No surprise vet visits this holiday!

 

If you believe your pet has consumed any amount of anything listed above, please contact us. Remember, we're here 24/7 for emergencies!

Enjoy the season and make sure everyone—pets included—has a safe and joyous holiday!

 

 

 

 

 

This blog post originally appeared at Georgia Veterinary Associates and has been adapted with permission for reposting.

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