The Christmas holiday season can a wonderful time of year for humans, with Christmas trees, decorations, food, sweets, and guests! However, all of these and more can unintentionally put your pets in harm’s way. Be sure to prepare for the necessary precautions to ensure your dog or cat safety before the Christmas holidays begin. If you follow the suggestions below, you will be a lot less likely to require an emergency vet visit for your beloved pet.
For many families, the Christmas tree is the central feature of the holiday season. It might be decorated with colourful lights, glass ornaments, and shiny tinsel. However, it’s important to keep your pet in mind when decorating the tree! When you’re setting the tree up, the first step is to make sure it’s securely anchored. Pets are likely going to want to explore the big, new addition to the room and dogs and cats are particularly notorious for getting too close and causing the tree to fall over. You should check your tree stand regularly to ensure that the bolts are still in place.
You should also be careful with the decorations you choose to hang on the tree. Pets often try to play with ornaments that are hung too low; glass ornaments are especially at risk for shattering and causing paw injury. You might want to consider skipping adding tinsel to the tree, or just draping it on the higher branches, as it can attract pets and can cause gastrointestinal blockages when consumed.
Finally, you should make sure that the tree water isn’t accessible to your pets by covering it with a tree skirt or similar item. The tree sap or pesticides used on the tree can leech into the water and consuming these can be toxic to pets.
Food and Sweets
When you think of the holidays, one of the first things that come to mind is all the food you and your family will enjoy. There might be Christmas dishes, cookies, chocolates, etc. spread on the table and it’s important to prevent your pet from eating anything that she shouldn’t. Fatty foods, garlic and onion, chocolate and sweets should all be kept away from your pet. It’s also important to keep in mind that if you are having guests over, to let them know not to share any food with your pet – we all know how hard it can be to resist those begging puppy dog eyes!
As a pet owner, you might already know that there are a number of house plants that are dangerous for cats and dogs. Poinsettia, mistletoe, holly, and lilies are just a few common holiday house plants or varieties often included in holiday arrangments. You or your guests might not realize that they can be harmful to your pets when bringing them into your home.
Ingesting too much of a poinsettia plant, especially the milky sap, can cause diarrhea, drooling and vomiting. Mistletoe contains vicsotoxins and eating the berries and leaves of this plant can lead to stomach pain and slowed heart rate. The saponins found in holly can cause gastrointestinal distress when eaten and lilies are especially dangerous for cats as ingesting even a small amount can lead to fatal kidney failure. If you have any of these plants in your home, please be sure to keep them far out of your pet’s reach.
Firelight can be an easy way to make your home feel cozy around the holidays, but you have to make sure that your pet is kept away from any open flames. Any fireplaces should have protective screens to avoid accidental burns. Candles need to be closely supervised and should either be well out of reach or not lit at all when pets are around so they don’t get burnt or somehow spread the fire. Wagging tails or curious paws can easily, accidentally hit candles placed on lower surfaces (if you have a dog) or higher surfaces (if you have a cat).
If you are having guests over, there are a number of scenarios that can be unsafe for your pets. When guests are arriving and leaving, the front door will be open quite a bit. In the commotion, your dog might take this opportunity to try to run away. Try to put your dog in another room when welcoming or seeing your guests out to completely avoid this situation.
If there are any children invited over that your pet isn’t used to, be sure to teach them the best ways to interact with your pet. As mentioned above, you should also make sure your guests don’t feed your pet any scraps from the table. They might accidentally feed her something that will make her sick. It is also important to consider how the crowded house might affect your pet. Even the most social pet might appreciate a space she can escape to for some quiet time.
Lastly, if you want to make sure Santa leaves you some presents, please make sure your pets don’t get into the cookies and milk left out for him!
Wishing you and your pets a wonderful and safe Christmas season!