The holidays are a time we enjoy carrying on family traditions – from how we deck the halls, to what we serve around the family table. But given the hectic pace of this season of celebration, we can easily become distracted from or unaware of the dangers posed to our furry family members. The very traditions we cherish could unwittingly put our pets at serious risk. Nobody wants to spoil the perfect holiday with an emergency trip to the vet, especially your pet. Here are just a few dangers pet parents often fail to recognize.
Holiday Tinsel and Ornaments
Tinsel, while not toxic, can be very tempting to pets, particularly cats. The problem with tinsel is that it can cause serious injury. When ingested, it can twist and bunch inside the animal’s digestive system and if not caught in time, can actually be fatal. If you see or suspect your pet has eaten tinsel, you should contact your Veterinarian immediately.
Bright and colorful tree ornaments also can attract your pet’s curiosity. Place glass, aluminum and paper ornaments higher up on the tree out of reach. Pets can chew and swallow these fragile objects and not only can broken pieces form sharp edges that may lacerate your pet’s mouth, throat and intestines, they could also create a choking hazard. Metal ornament hooks also can be dangerous if swallowed.
Holiday Lighting and Candles
Twinkling, holiday lights may be another source of danger to your curious pets. For a pet that likes to chew, chomping down on an electrical cord or string of lights can result in an electric shock, causing tongue lacerations and possible death. Check your holiday lights for signs of fraying or chewing and use a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution.
If you have candles on display, place them where they are out of reach and inaccessible to your four-legged family members. Not only can pets seriously burn themselves if they should knock over a burning candle, it could leave a trail of hot wax that can burn the pads of paws. A candle mishap could ignite nearby items and spread, putting your whole household in danger.
Gift Wrap Ribbon
Don’t be tempted to playfully adorn your pet with ribbons from your holiday gifts or wide decorative ribbon used on wreaths and garland – both can be hazardous. Be sure to quickly discard ribbons and bows from your holiday gifts so pets won’t be tempted to chew or swallow them. Ingested ribbon can be a choking hazard and ultimately twist throughout the intestines, possibly requiring emergency surgery and even death.
Tasty holiday treats are a big part of what makes the seasonal celebrations so special. Unfortunately, some of the most popular holiday goodies, such as chocolate, nuts and the bones from our Christmas ham or turkey, can be extremely toxic or fatal to pets.
Chocolate candy and other chocolate treats contain varying levels of fat, caffeine and the substance methylxanthine that is dangerous for dogs. The darker and richer the chocolate is, the higher the risk of toxicity. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, dogs might experience vomiting, diarrhea, urination, hyperactivity, heart arrhythmias, tremors and seizures.
Fat trimmings and bones have their own risks to pets. Fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked, may cause pancreatitis. Some bones can pose a choking hazard, and others can splinter and cause an obstruction or lacerations of your dog’s digestive system.
Nuts, such as almonds, non-moldy walnuts and pistachios can cause an upset stomach or an obstruction of your dog’s throat and/or intestinal tract. Macadamia nuts and moldy walnuts also can be toxic, causing seizures or neurological problems. Lethargy, vomiting and loss of muscle control are among the symptoms of nut ingestion.
Keep your pet on a regular diet during the holidays and caution visitors against giving your pet special treats or table scraps..
Toxic Holiday Plants
They may be pretty, but some holiday plants are poisonous – even deadly for your pets. Dangerous plants to avoid include:
• As little as a single leaf from any lily plant variety is lethal to cats.
• Christmas tree needles can produce oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, trembling and posterior weakness.
• Ingesting holly can cause intense vomiting, diarrhea and depression.
• Mistletoe can cause significant vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, erratic behavior, hallucinations and death if ingested.
• Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not deadly, but they can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach and sometimes vomiting if a large quantity is ingested.
Taking precautions to protect your pets during this special time of year can help ensure that you and your family members, especially the furry ones, will share a happy and healthy holiday season!