How to Avoid Holiday Hazards for Pets

Tinsel and/or yarn can be a fun toy, but a few minutes of fun can result in severe consequences for your cat or dog. Many times, you may not know what your pet ate until you see it coming out of its back end. And, if you do see it, never pull it out. You don’t how much or how long the foreign body is, and if you pull on it, it can tangle or tear the colon or intestines. Always see your veterinarian if you suspect that your pet has ingested a foreign body. Many times, your veterinarian can take a radiograph or use an endoscope (a flexible device that is inserted into the stomach or intestines) to determine if and what your pet has consumed.

Several holiday items that are dangerous to pets are mistletoe, lilies, chocolate, raisins/grapes (also fruitcake), turkey bones, and poinsettia. You also need to be aware of what you’re putting under the tree. That package may contain something that your pet just can’t resist. A dog’s ability to smell is about 100 times better than that of a human, which means that your dog is probably smelling that box of candy from the backyard. Many holiday treats, foods, and plants can be toxic or even lethal to pets. It’s always a good idea to keep your veterinarian’s phone number close to the phone, or better yet, programmed in your cell phone, just in case you need to make that call.

If you use a live tree for Christmas, make sure your pets don’t have access to the tree’s water bowl. Fertilizers used to help the tree grow and chemicals used after the tree is harvested can contaminate the water and cause stomach upset. Cover the dish with a tree skirt or other festive fabric. Candles are a beautiful addition to Christmas decorations and a necessity for Hanukkah celebrations but take extra care to make sure they’re out of your pet’s reach and that they’re never left unattended. Consider using an electric menorah or electric candles. Consider shatter proof ornaments for your tree to prevent your pets from breaking the glass ones.

Poinsettias and holly are beautiful and a holiday tradition for many of us, but they are also poisonous to people and animals. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems. Make sure mistletoe is firmly attached wherever you hang it and that the plants are well out of reach. The safest solution would be to use artificial plants and flowers.

Light cords can be tempting toys puppies and kittens. Either keep them tucked behind furniture or tape them down. One thing to do is to cut a slit down the side of an empty paper towel cardboard center, gather the cord up inside, and tape it shut again, eliminating extra cording which could then be tucked out of the way.

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