Now that we are less than a week away from one of the biggest holidays of the year, you probably have your decorations up. Take the time to double check your home for these common hazards to your pets, so you can enjoy the time with your family without worry or an unexpected visit to the pet ER.
Cats and dogs can get sick from drinking water from a tree stand for a live tree. If you can’t cover the stand, try to keep the water level just low enough that your pet can’t get to it, and avoid additives to extend the life of the tree.
Put the tree, live or artificial, in a corner and away from your pet’s favorite window. It will be less likely to get knocked over. Consider anchoring the tree to a wall or the ceiling for extra security. This will help if you have a cat that likes to climb. Hang breakable ornaments out of batting (or tail) reach and make sure ornament hangers are securely attached.
Skip edible decorations on the tree, like candy canes or popcorn. Dogs will be attracted to the smell.
Skip the tinsel too. Tinsel is highly dangerous when ingested, especially to cats. Don’t take the risk.
Finally, unplug the tree when you’re not around.
Plants like poinsettia, holly and mistletoe have the reputation for being toxic to pets, but none of them are actually poisonous. Eating the leaves or parts of these plants can cause mild intestinal distress, but are not toxic. If your pet has a tendency to chew on plants, keep them out of reach.
Many holiday favorites are no good for dogs. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine that is poisonous to dogs (and cats too, but cats rarely eat enough of it to cause an issue), so keep it away. Fruit cake can contain raisins or currants, which dogs cannot have. Sugarless gums and candies are sweetened with an artificial ingredient called xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.
Guard the trash can! Scraps of fat, gravy or bones can all cause problems like vomiting, diarrhea, pancreatitis or even intestinal blockage. If your dog is a trash hound, try to lock up the can or be sure to empty it more frequently.
Alcohol, especially sweetened drinks, can be attractive to dogs. Alcohol is quickly absorbed and can cause big time issues in little dogs. Keep the cocktails away from your pet.
Unbaked yeast products, such as bread dough, are especially problematic because the warm environment of the stomach will cause yeast to continue to rise, usually requiring surgery to remove the dough.
LIGHTS, CANDLES AND OTHER DECORATIONS
Never leave burning candles unattended, especially when your pet is around. Keep candles away from drapes, furniture or an other fabric. If you have pet birds or asthmatic cats, opt for candles with natural cotton wicks or consider switching to flameless LED candles.
Make sure any swags of greenery or lights are hung out of pet reach.
We recommend not putting gifts under the tree before Christmas. The boxes and bows and shiny paper are too enticing. Even if your pet doesn’t ingest anything, he or she can still make your pretty gift look terrible! Be especially careful with curling ribbon, which poses serious threats when swallowed.
THE OUTSIDE THREATS
Cold weather usually means an increase in the chances of a rodent getting inside in search of warmth. Beware of rodent bait left outside.
One other winter threat that is of particular concern is antifreeze, which contains a sweet smelling and sweet tasting ingredient that is highly toxic to cats and dogs. Clean up any antifreeze spills immediately and if you suspect your pet has licked some, take him to the vet right away.
If you have houseguests, make sure they secure their belongings. The animal poison control reports an increase in accidental ingestion of human pharmaceuticals around the holidays, so make sure grandma keeps her heart medicine locked up.