Protect Your Pets During the Holidays

Deck the halls with boughs of holly … but be sure it’s out of reach of your furry friends. It’s easy to get swept up in the festivities of the season, but don’t forget that added fun means added risks for your pets. Here are 12 potential hazards to watch for so your animal companion remains safe during the holidays:

  • Christmas tree water – Some trees are treated with chemicals that can seep into the Christmas tree water. Also, stagnant tree water can build up bacteria over time, which is harmful if ingested.
  • Cords from holiday lights – Keep wires out of reach or covered to discourage pets from playing with or chewing them. If tampered with, lights can cause electrical burns and potentially lethal electric shock.
  • Decorative plants – Plants like mistletoe, holly and poinsettias can cause a range of problems if ingested, including vomiting, abdominal pain, cardiovascular problems, loss of appetite and diarrhea.
  • Candles – While it’s traditional for menorah candles to remain lit for at least half an hour, leaving your pet alone near an open flame is risky. Kennel your pets during this time or keep a close eye on them. Pets should never be left unsupervised around lit candles.
  • Turkey bones – These bones can easily splinter into sharp pieces. The splinters can get lodged in a pet’s throat or intestines causing punctures in the intestinal tract and blockages. Secure garbage cans and bags with food scraps.
  • Chocolate – DoveLewis sees an increase in animals suffering from chocolate toxicity over the holidays. Keep all food, especially food that contains chocolate, out of reach of animals, and monitor pets during food prep and feasts.
  • Alcohol – Most alcohol consumption by animals occurs as a result of drinking from unattended glasses, but it can also occur if a pet eats raw bread dough. The yeast in the dough ferments in the stomach and releases alcohol ethanol. Alcohol consumption can cause vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma, central nervous system issues, and even death in pets.
  • Tinsel and ribbon – Cats are especially attracted to tinsel and ribbon, which can obstruct the digestive tract and cause severe vomiting and dehydration if ingested. Avoid using tinsel at all if you have a feline friend in the house, and keep ribbon out of reach.
  • Ornaments – Any ornament on the bottom of the tree is a tempting toy for your pets. Though not poisonous, many ornaments (especially those made of glass or those with sharp edges) can be dangerous. Hang lightweight glass ornaments near the top of the tree or use shatterproof ornaments only.
  • Liquid potpourri – Cats are particularly attracted to liquid potpourri. The hot liquid can burn their fur and mouths in addition to causing gastrointestinal problems if ingested.
  • House guests – Stress from visiting relatives and friends, as well as an altered schedule, can manifest in a variety of ways, including vomiting and gastrointestinal issues. Create a “safe zone” for your pets where they can retreat until the increased activity of the holidays is over. Also, with people coming in and out of your house, your pet is at risk of escaping and getting lost. Be sure your pet’s microchip is updated just in case, and use the DoveLewis online Lost and Found Database if necessary.
  • New Year’s distractions – Confetti, noisy poppers and fireworks are all potential hazards for pets. Confetti can get lodged in a pet’s intestines if ingested. Noisy poppers can scare pets and might do damage to sensitive ears. And fireworks scare most animals causing them to run if they escape. Keep them secured and safe around midnight.

Alaina Buller

Communications Specialist

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