Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas might be the most
wonderful times of the year, but they can also be some of the most dangerous
for cats and dogs. From deliciously rich holiday fare to enticingly shiny
decorations, the holiday season brings plenty of risky temptations for animals. Even if you are vigilant all year with your pets, it’s easy to get distracted with the extra responsibilities and extra people coming and going this season.
Don’t let a pet accident or emergency put a damper on your festivities. Follow our
expert advice to help keep your animals safe this holiday.
Danger: Your Cat Climbs in the Christmas Tree
Solution: Don’t let your kitty turn your Christmas tree into a
playground. If possible, set up the tree in a room that can be closed off with
doors. Another strategy? Dr. Marty Becker suggests creating a moat of foil
around the base of the tree. Most cats hate walking on foil. And it’s a good
idea to secure your tree to the ceiling with fishing line to keep it
from crashing down if your cat does decide to climb it.
Danger: Guests Slipping Your Pet Holiday Food
Solution: Your guests may not know that feeding rich holiday fare to pets can lead to pancreatitis, a painful and potentially life-threatening
condition most commonly caused by overindulgence in fatty food. Make it clear to visitors that giving leftovers to your animal is not OK, no matter how much he begs. And your guests may think it's harmless to give dogs and cats leftover turkey, chicken, beef or fish bones, but that's not the case. Meat bones can shatter or splinter and perforate the intestinal tract or
cause intestinal blockage. Dogs can also
choke on large or oddly shaped bones, like T-bones.
Danger: Menorahs, Candlesticks and Other Lighted Decorations
Solution: Keep your animals in mind as you light candles, menorahs and
luminaries. It’s tradition for the candles on the menorah to remain
lit for at least half an hour, but leaving your pet alone
with burning candles while your family opens presents could be disastrous.
To keep your pet safe, place your menorah on a stable surface she can’t
reach and consider securing her in a crate. The same goes for any other lit
candles in your home — never leave your pets unattended
with them. Consider replacing tapers and tea lights with flameless
candles. Though a battery-operated or plug-in alternative may not be as
dramatic or beautiful as a candle, it could prevent a harrowing
trip to the vet ER.
Danger: Tinsel, Garlands, Glass Ornaments and Other Tree Trimmings
Solution: Besides candles, the other dangerous decorations you need to
worry about are glass ornaments, tinsel, ribbon, loose electrical cords and
potpourri. Cats are especially attracted to tinsel and ribbon, which can be
dangerous if accidentally ingested. If you have a curious and playful pet who
tries to bat at or play with ornaments, replace glass or fragile ornaments with plastic or nonbreakable ones. Or, better yet, place them out of reach where they can't be chewed or swallowed. Additionally, secure loose or
dangling electrical cords so your animal doesn’t bite them. And if you want to fill your home with the
scents of the season through potpourri, keep it out of reach of
pets. Liquid and dried potpourris can be toxic for cats and, in some cases, for dogs as well.
Danger: Your Guests Don't Know How to Properly Interact With Pets
Solution: Chances are, you’ll have plenty of family and friends
stopping by this holiday season. Some of your guests may not be comfortable
around cats and dogs or won’t know the proper ways to pet your
animal — especially children. This is a great time to teach kids how
to approach and interact with your animal. Supervise
each interaction, and watch your cat or dog for signs of distress, such as trying to escape or growling.
Solution: Think twice about decking the halls with boughs of holly and
mistletoe. These plants might get you in the holiday spirit, but they can be
toxic to pets. Other foliage that can be dangerous includes amaryllis and
lilies. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are actually not all that harmful, but it’s still a good
idea to keep them away from pets.
Danger: Your Pet Is Getting Dangerous Toys as Gifts
Solution: Your favorite furry companion deserves something special
this holiday season, but some toys, even ones created for cats and
dogs, can be dangerous. For dogs, avoid toys that are small enough to
be ingested, linear objects like strings and ribbons, and toys stuffed with beads or
beans. For cats, steer clear of toys that have strings,
ribbons or yarn, and take off any plastic eyes or noses on toy mice. When in
doubt, follow your instincts and keep a seemingly suspect toy away from your animal.