How to decorate for the winter holidays with your pet in mind

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By Diane Levitan, VMD

Avoid the chocolate on the tree, the mistletoe where reachable, the macadamia nuts on the table and the popcorn on a string… the holly and the Poinsettia— The presents with food in them wrapped in ribbons and the strung up candy; the stockings filled with treats; the garbage filled with tasty left overs… the relatives and kids who like to feed the dog.

Electric cords, tinsel, glass ornaments, candles, Pine needles, spray on-snow (some are non-toxic-read the label), ribbons, plastic or foil wrapping, etc. can be dangerous to your pet. Cover up or hide electric cords, never let your pet chew on them. Do not tie ribbons around pet's necks or limbs. Watch out for rubber bands too.

Candles are responsible for more than 100 fire fatalities each year in America with December as the leading month for home candle fires.

  • Remember that plants (holly, mistletoe, poinsettia, lilies, Christmas rose, etc,) are poisonous to pets.
  • Pine needles can create problems if ingested.
  • Unsecured Christmas trees pose hazards to climbing critters as they can topple or be knocked over.
  • Don't forget to prevent the ingestion of Christmas tree water since stagnant water or preservatives can be toxic.
  • Other holiday hazards include menorahs, candles and liquid potpourri pots.
  • Fire and burns are not the only threats to pets and the household. Scented items can also be harmful--especially to birds.
  • The ingestion of inappropriate foods, tinsel, ribbons or garlands can cause sickness or obstruction.
  • Electrical cords, heated decorative bulbs, hooks, and a wide variety of other adornment items create temptations. Use topical pet deterrents and barriers for protection.
  • Keep décor items out of reach of your pet or in places your animals cannot get to them.
  • Keep trash lids on tight. Chewed aluminum foil, spoiled food, food scraps cause illness in pets.

During the holidays, many people become soft-hearted and give “just one treat” to the begging pet. Unfortunately, too many treats, or the wrong types, can cause severe stomach upsets and may lead to an emergency visit to the veterinarian. Bones, fatty foods, onions, and alcoholic beverages should not be on your pet’s holiday menu. Thanksgiving can be especially difficult and many emergency rooms report higher than normal number of pancreatitis cases and intestinal blockages during this time. Chocolates, especially dark or baking chocolates, should never be given to pets. Even seemingly harmless treats, such as grapes, raisins or macadamia nuts have caused severe disease in dogs. Ask your guests to honor your holiday wish and restrain from giving holiday food to your pet.

Other holiday dangers can include ingestion of mistletoe, holly, or the water from the live Christmas tree. All of these have the potential to make your pet seriously ill. If your cat is very inquisitive, it may be necessary to keep the tree behind a closed door. The tree’s decorations are also a potential for causing an emergency visit due to ingestion or lacerations from broken ornaments or tinsel. BE CAREFUL AND HAVE FUN!

Article courtesy of Pet360