At-Home Pet Dangers to Beware Over the Winter Holidays

Christmas House Cat
When hanging decorations for the winter holidays, be sure to place them out of reach of curious paws.

Winter can be a magical time of year for family, friends and furry companions, alike. To help keep everyone happy and safe, consider which holiday traditions might be potential hazards for your pet and take proper precautions — before the season begins.

Deck the Halls

Jingling bells and other holiday decorations can offer a host of new toys for pets to play with or explore, which may put them in danger. Dr. Karen Todd, a New Jersey veterinarian experienced in emergency medicine, cautions, “Pets are curious and observant. They can find things you may not even notice.” Therefore, decorate with safety in mind:

  • Place ornaments higher on the tree, away from playful cats or dogs.
  • Move surface decorations that pose a choking hazard out of reach. Bite-sized adornments, such as dreidels or nativity scene pieces, may cause severe internal injury if ingested.
  • Tie back or tape down electrical cords, so animals who love to chew won’t nibble and get a jolt. Loose cords can also tangle around a pet, posing a risk of strangulation or possibly capsizing heavy decorations, such as a Christmas tree.
  • Keep open flames inaccessible. Open chimney fires, menorahs and other flame sources can burn animals or cause a house fire if disturbed.

Chestnuts Roasting

During holiday feasting, pets should not participate in the gluttony. Feeding a pet scraps can cause serious stomach and intestinal upset from overfeeding, or more severe illnesses if the foods are toxic to animals. Pets hanging around the kitchen should be kept away from any alcohol, chocolate, macadamia nuts or raisins that may have been left out. For a more comprehensive list of toxic foods and poisonous houseplants, visit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center’s website.

Owners can dole out dog biscuits and other healthy treats, such as carrots and green beans. That way, pets can enjoy the gastronomic aspect of the holidays without their health being put at risk. Even wholesome pet snacks can be unhealthy if given too often, so avoid overindulging a pet’s appetite for treats.

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