Who doesn’t have a story about a dog knocking down a Christmas tree or a cat flinging glass ornaments? While some of these stories can be cute, once the homeowners exasperation has passed, the reality is the most wonderful time of the year carries with it a high risk to the health of your pets. Dogs, cats, and other small animals can become ill or injured.
Here are the most likely holiday pet threats and some solutions to safeguard your furry family members this season.
Threat: Toxic Holiday Plants
Reason: Snacking on holiday plants can cause everything from mild vomiting to death in our pets.
Prevent it: Don’t purchase or display live lilies, poinsettias, mistletoe or holly in a home with pets.
Threat: Water in the Christmas Tree Strand
Reason: Dogs and cats can become ill. Bacteria in stagnant water can give pets gastrointestinal illness. Fertilizers or chemicals to extend the life of the live tree can be poisonous to pets.
Prevent It: Purchase a specially made tree stand with a covered water chamber. Alternatively, refrain from from using fertilizers and preservatives, and change the water at least once a day.
Threat: Christmas Ornaments and Lights
Reason: Cats love to knock down low-hanging glass ornaments, which can then shatter and cut delicate paws. Dogs like to nibble on popcorn strings, including the string, which can require surgery. Cats prefer to swallow tinsel with the same results. Both dogs and cats may chew on lights, which may electrocute.
Prevent it: Decorate the lowest branches of your Christmas tree with pet safe plastic ornaments. Lights are tricker. If your pet is drawn to them, you may have to gate the tree or restrict your pet from the room when you can’t supervise. Skip the popcorn strings and the tinsel altogether.
Threat: Stuff Belonging to Guests
Reason: Anything that comes into the house seems fair game to your pets. Curious dogs, cats and other small pets may dig through suitcases, purses and even coat pockets. Among the pet hazards include chocolate, cigarettes, medications, and more.
Prevent it: Keep your guest’s belongings and your pets safe by hanging items out of the way or designating a room behind a closed door to restrict access.
Reason: Those nice smelling pine cones and wood shavings may attract curious pets. The same goes for scented oils and gels. The oils, either alone or used to scent potpourri are dangerous to pets, causing everything from ulcerations of the mouth and eyes, if touched, to liver damage, if ingested.
Threat: Sugar Substitutes
Reason: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a low calorie sweetener. While there is debate about its toxicity to humans (Xylitol is labeled as relatively harmless), we do now that the substance is often lethal to dogs.
Prevent it: Use alternative sweeteners and don’t give sweet treats to your pets.