The Holidays Can be Hazardous for Your Pets

Help your pets have a healthy and happy holiday season and avoid an unexpected trip to the vet by pet-proofing your home during the holidays.

Poisonous plants, toxic treats and damaging decorations can all pose health threats to your pets. But a little pre-planning on your part can make December safe for your furry friends.

Perilous Plants

Oh, Christmas Tree, oh Christmas tree, you pose a threat to climbing cats and all thirsty critters. Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, especially if your kitty decides to climb it or your dog chases the cat up it. Keep pets from drinking tree water because it can contain fertilizers that can upset their stomach. Bacteria can also breed in stagnant tree water and your thirsty pets could end up with nausea or diarrhea.

Poinsettias look festive, but they are poisonous and their milky sap contains irritants that can cause itching and irritation to your pets. If eaten by your furry family members, poinsettias can cause vomiting and drooling.

Sprigs of holly are oh, so jolly and mistletoe kisses can be delicious, but these two can cause nausea and diarrhea in cats and dogs. Hang them high and out of reach.

Flowering Amaryllis adds splashes of color during the holidays, but it’s very toxic to your pets. It causes vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, lethargy, and tremors in both cats and dogs. The bulb of the plant is even more dangerous so make sure your pets don’t have access to this one.

Cyclamen is also a lovely winter-blooming plant that brightens the holidays, but if your pets decide to give it a taste, it can cause drooling, digestive upset and heart problems.

Fearful Food

Fruitcake, panettone, stolen – call it what you will, but keep it away from your pets. These sweet breads seem to show up during the holidays like unwanted guests and whether you love them or hate them, you mustn’t let your pets partake. These traditional holiday foods can contain alcohol, yeast, raisins and currents, which are all toxic to cats and dogs.

Alcohol does not make for a merry and bright time for your pets. It can cause vomiting, breathing problems, coma and even death. Keep cocktails out of your pets’ reach.

Chocolate appears at Christmas in Advent calendars, candy dishes, gift boxes and could be stuffed into stockings, but beware because it contains theobromine, which causes vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, over-excitement, racing heart, breathing difficulties, seizures and collapse in pets.

Diet sweets may help you keep off the pounds during the holidays, but anything that is sweetened with xylitol, such as sugarless gum, can be deadly for your pets.

Dangerous Decorations

The glitter and glow of tinsel can really get your pet’s attention and it can be fun for them to play with, but it can also be deadly.  If swallowed, it can cause dangerous bowel problems that could require costly surgery.

Glass ornaments reflect holiday lights and can roll around just like a ball when batted, but they break and those sharp pieces can be deadly if eaten and can cut tender feet. Use plastic, unbreakable ornaments instead.

Hide those electrical cords leading to your holiday lights because puppies and cats love to chew on them. This can lead to electrical shock or even electrocution and if swallowed, those chewed pieces can block the digestive track.

Candles add to the ambiance of the holidays, but don’t leave lighted candles unattended or within pets’ reach. Pets can burn themselves or knock the candles over and cause a fire.

And it just won’t be the holidays without the batteries that will be used to power up all those new electronics and toys. Your pets can find those batteries lying around and may want to play with or chew on them. Punctured batteries can burn your pet’s mouth and esophagus so keep them away from pets.

Bows and ribbons make presents look so appealing to both you and your pets. Cats especially love playing with ribbon, but if swallowed, dangerous digestive obstructions could result.

If you believe your pet has eaten any dangerous holiday item, call your veterinarian or nearby emergency animal care center immediately to determine what course of action to take.

The Veterinary Medical Board advises you to take some precautions this year to ensure your pet has a safe and happy holiday season. You can check your veterinarian’s license on the Department of Consumer Affairs’ website by clicking HERE.

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