Christmas is one of the most celebrated family-oriented holidays of the year. Pets are often included in the festivities, since most people consider them to be a huge part of their family. There are many Christmas hazards that are important to be conscious of while celebrating the holiday with your pets.
One of the most anticipated symbols of Christmas is the decorated tree. When it comes to pet safety, it is best to place your tree in a corner and anchor it to either the floor or the ceiling to prevent it from tipping over when curious noses investigate. It is also important to keep your pet from drinking any tree water if your family chooses to have a real tree. Tree water can contain fertilizers that may cause your pet gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea, if ingested. Lights can also pose a threat to your pets; they can cause burns and even possibly shock if chewed on. Ornaments are a choking and foreign body hazard if chewed on and can also cut your pet if mistaken for a ball and broken. Tinsel also needs to be used cautiously, especially when it comes to cats. Tinsel is shiny, stringy, reflects light and moves in the tiniest draft, making it very attractive to cats and could also cause a foreign body obstruction. To decrease the risk of GI upset and foreign body obstruction, enticing decorations including popcorn and cranberry strings, gingerbread ornaments and tinsel should all be placed high enough on the tree to make them less of a temptation for your pet.
Holiday plants to keep out of reach of your pet include holly, mistletoe and poinsettias. They all vary in their degree of toxicity, but can cause vomiting, diarrhea and potentially worse problems to internal organs. Lilies are very toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure.
Table food is never recommended to share with your pet, but certain foods can cause a lot of trouble. Never give your pet chocolate or any sweets containing Xylitol. Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, heart arrhythmias and even seizures. Fat trimmings and bones are tempting to give to your pet, but they can cause pancreatitis, foreign body obstruction, choking and splinter hazards. Nuts, including almonds, walnuts and pistachios can all cause GI upset; macadamias and moldy walnuts are toxic and can cause seizures. Alcohol and eggnog should never be shared with pets; they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, lethargy, coordination problems, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma and even seizures.
Another hazard to be cautious of are candles. Burning candles should be placed on high shelves or mantles away from wagging tails and curious noses. Wrapping paper, string and ribbon should all be kept away from pets due to foreign body risks. Ribbon is never recommended to be used as a decorative “collar” as it can cause choking and even a linear foreign body obstruction, especially with cats who love to play with ribbon.
Christmas is a time meant to be spent with family. Keeping your pets safe from the hazards that arise during Christmas is just one step in keeping your entire family happy and healthy during the holiday season. No one, including your pet, wants to spend their Christmas holiday at a veterinary emergency hospital.