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Staying Safe During the Holidays

Cats Dogs Family Life Holidays Safety

Five dogs with Christmas Gifts

Christmas is right around the corner! And you know what that means. Gifts, hot cocoa, stockings, tinsel, freshly baked cookies, fuzzy socks, and the fresh, soft snow falling around us. Tis the season to be jolly, but also tis the season to be on the lookout for hidden pet dangers. Give them cuddles, treats, toys, and love - not unexpected recipes for disaster. 

Here are some of the Christmas staples that people enjoy, but can be of risk to our beloved pets: 

Tree Decorations 

If decorating the tree for Christmas is a tradition for your family, your pet may want to hop on the bandwagon. Ornaments are shiny, glittery decorations that will surely catch the eye of your pet. Beware of your cat or dog trying to play with any of the ornaments or accidentally bumping into the tree, knocking it over. Aside from the dangers of the tree falling over onto your pet, the ornaments will likely shatter. They are often fragile and made of plastic or glass. Should they break into smaller pieces, it may either be ingested and choked on by your pet, or can cut them. Go for shatterproof ornaments when possible. Another Christmas tree staple to watch out for is tinsel. This is yet another eye catching decoration that your pet will certainly enjoy exploring, whether they bite it, wrestle with it, or use it as a rope. There’s a possibility of your pet getting too wrapped up in the tinsel or even eating it, which can cause severe obstruction and gastrointestinal blockage that requires surgery to remove.

 Lights & Candles 

The winter days of the Christmas season get shorter and shorter, meaning it also gets darker earlier. People love to compensate by using a variety of fun colored Christmas fairy lights, whether it be outside in their trees or inside above the fireplace! Similar to tinsel, these bright lights can catch the attention of your pets. Curious dogs or cats may get tangled up in them or decide to give it a taste. They’ll be in for an unpleasant shock when they get … shocked! The electricity is very dangerous to your pet. Unplug lights whenever you are not around to supervise your pet and keep them out of paw’s reach. Instead of lights, some prefer winter scented candles. Nothing beats the smell of marshmallows, wood crackling in the fireplace, sugar cookies, or peppermint. But left unattended, your pet can knock candles over, starting a fire. Or they can stick their curious noses and paws in, burning themselves. Never leave candles lit for too long and always keep an eye out for your pet when they are lit. A safer alternative are LED candles! 

Gifts 

As gifts stack up under your Christmas tree, make sure your pet’s curiosity isn’t getting the best of them. There’s no way to tell what’s inside those beautifully wrapped boxes. It could be candies, food, drinks, tools, clothes, makeup, toys, supplies, etc - all of which can put your pet in harm’s way. Consuming large amounts of wrapping paper or ribbon can also cause an obstruction in your pet’s body. Make sure your pet knows not to open or unravel any of the gifts on their own, or consider placing this year’s gifts in a new spot.

 Christmas Dinner 

You don’t want your companion to feel left out of the holiday festivities. Afterall, they’re a part of the family, too! If you would like for your pet to join the family for Christmas Dinner, you must first know which foods are toxic to them and which are not.  

Here is a list of some foods toxic to your pet:

  • Cooked Bones - These easily break apart, leaving your pet susceptible to the dangers of sharp edges and cracks in the bone. These can puncture holes in your pet’s intestines.
  • Chocolate - This sweet contains a substance called theobromine, which is very toxic to dogs. It can be found in all chocolates, but has particularly high levels in dark chocolate. Consumption of theobromine can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and sometimes even death.
  • Raisins / Grapes - Raisins and grapes are used as ingredients in many Christmas food favorites, including pudding, pie, and fruit cake. Ingesting this can lead to serious kidney failure in your dog or cat.
  • Onion / Garlic / Leeks / Chives  - Commonly used in recipes, these contain N-propyl disulfide. This damages hemoglobin, which is the substance that carries oxygen in your pet’s red blood cells.
  • Nuts - Nuts are commonly used in dessert recipes around Christmas. Macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, and pistachios can cause many unpleasant reactions in your furry friend. Lethargy, vomiting, an upset stomach, seizures, and increased body temperature are just a few of the effects. 

When feeding your pet other pet-friendly human foods, be sure to supervise and only give in small amounts. Pets have very sensitive stomachs, and it’s always best to transition them into trying new foods. Otherwise … you can’t go wrong with good ol’ pet food! 

Plants 

Flowers and plants are beautiful for decoration, but that doesn’t make up for the negative reactions your pet can have to them.

 These are the effects of common Christmas flowers: 

  • Holly - vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach
  • Mistletoe - vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, hallucinations
  • Poinsettia - vomiting, irritation of mouth and stomach, excessive salivating 
  • Christmas Trees - Pine needles have sharp tips that can hurt your pet, and also lead to vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and tremors.

Alcohol 

Whether it’s in a glass or in the batter of your dessert, alcohol is much more toxic to dogs than it is to humans. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, a drop in body sugar, difficulty breathing, and even a coma. Not to mention, it can produce the same drunk-like effect in your dogs as it can people. They may become drowsy, confused, and unstable. Avert this by cleaning up any spills, clearing out any leftover drinks laying out, and leaving the fun to the humans.  

As Christmas nears us, it certainly is the time to be festive and celebrate with your loved ones, but your pet is a part of that, too! Don’t let the hidden dangers of the holiday be the reason your furry friend can’t enjoy it with you.


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