With the increase of holiday fun and festivities also comes an increase in the level of pet mischief. The cat’s curious nature plus a dog’s strong sense of smell causes both animals to be interested in holiday decorations, food and drinks that may very well lead to a trip to a veterinarian emergency room. By creating a pet-safe environment, you’ll be ensured that both humans and pets can enjoy a worry-free holiday. Here’s a list of common holiday and winter household dangers for pets:
Holiday visitors and household parties can be especially stressful for some pets. Try to keep your pet on his regular feeding and exercise schedule. When expecting guests for gatherings as well as having family stayover, keep a watchful eye on the doorways. Your pets may try to escape in order to avoid the additional holiday commotion within the household. You can always consider designating a “safe place” for your dogs and cats to stay, while you’re entertaining visitors. This space would allow them some quiet time away from the commotion, with access to some of their favorite toys, food and water, along with bedding. Be sure your pets have proper identification collars as well as the possibility of microchipping, in case of a pet escape!
Even though Christmas trees are beautiful during the holiday season, they can pose a danger to our furry family members. Since cats may attempt to climb the tree trunk, thus causing the tree to fall, you should keep the tree secure by using a stable stand. Since the tree stand water contains preservatives and sap, you should be sure your pets do not drink the tree water. Drinking this water can cause an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. Furthermore, ingesting the evergreen needles from the tree can get stuck in your pet’s intestines, irritating the esophagus, and potentially require surgery to remove.
Holiday Lights and Wires
If your pet seems interested in chewing on the holiday lights and cords, you should limit their exposure to them. Chewing on decorative tree lights can result in electrical shock, oral burns and potentially even death. If you suspect electrocution – some common signs are being dazed and confused, difficulty breathing, mouth burns or seizures – you should seek immediate veterinarian assistance. With pets in the household, taking the proper precautions to ensure lights are hung out of reach and the cords are adequately secured are necessary. There are a variety of cord organizers and cord covers on the market you could use to make the cords less accessible and out of sight. You should also use grounded 3-prong extension cords and always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for light usage.
Pets are often attracted to ornaments hanging from the Christmas tree. Ornaments can be ingested, or they can fall and break. For your pet’s safety, try and avoid hanging ornaments from the lower branches of the Christmas tree. Adequately secure ornaments and place them above the reach of curious noses and paws.
Tinsel and Ribbon
If ingested, decorative tinsel and ribbon can get caught in the intestines, causing a blockage, and thus leading to emergency surgery. Due to the seriousness of ingesting tinsel and ribbon, if your pet is likely to eat these decorative items, you should avoid decorating your home with them. The most common signs of an intestinal blockage include vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite. If you suspect your pet has ingested these items, you should immediately visit your nearest veterinarian or emergency veterinary hospital.
Decorative Plants and Flowers
Decorative plants are often displayed during the holidays, however, some of these plants can present a real danger to pets, as several of the plants are toxic. Even the non-toxic plants may cause stomach upset if ingested by your pets. Common holiday plants to take note of are:
Amaryllis – Toxic to both cats and dogs
Lillies – Extremely toxic to cats
Poinsettias – Toxic to both cats and dogs
Mistletoe – Toxic to both cats and dogs
Holly – Toxic to both cats and dogs
Some human food can be toxic to pets and should be avoided at all costs. Chocolate contains caffeine and can be toxic in both dogs and cats. Fatty foods such as meat trimmings can cause stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea. Raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs. Onion ingestion can cause blood cell damage in both dogs and cats. Macadamia nuts cause a variety of neurological issues in dogs. So when in doubt, keep the “people food” for the humans and the “pet food” for the furry family!
Toys and Batteries
Batteries and small board game pieces can cause pancreatitis if ingested by your pet. Furthermore, if a pet chews on a hard plastic toy, they risk breaking their teeth. Keep all small toys and batteries off the floor to discourage your pets’ curiosity, and be aware of the small batteries in greeting cards, watches and remote controls.
Enjoy a Pet Friendly Holiday
It takes just a little extra time to make sure your home is “pet friendly”. If you know your curious pet will enjoy themselves around the house while you’re away, eliminate some of the items that can potentially be destructive and dangerous to them. In the end, you will be thankful you’ve taken the extra steps for both yourself and your furry friends.