Holiday Hazards for Your Pet

 The holidays are a wonderful, magical and hectic time for us humans. It’s hard to imagine that many of our festive trimmings are potentially lethal for our pets. We must be ever-mindful of the things we bring into our four-legged family’s environment, and look carefully from their vantage point to make certain they are safe. There are many seemingly harmless items that we bring out during the holidays that can present serious hazards for our pets. The last thing you want to be doing this holiday season is rushing your beloved pet to the emergency vet! Here are some things to look out for:

  • Many holiday plants can be toxic to dogs and cats. Please keep holly, mistletoe, poinsettias and lilies well out of their reach.
  • Pine needles, if ingested, can puncture holes in a pet’s intestines. If you have a real tree or pine boughs in the house, be sure to keep the pet areas free of needles.
  • The extra cords and plugs of holiday lights can look like great new chew toys to pets. Tape down or cover cords to help avoid shocks, burns or other serious injuries. Unplug lights when you are not at home.
  • Anchor your Christmas tree to walls or ceiling with string or rope to prevent it from falling on pets.
  • Do not let pets drink from the holiday tree water. Pesticides and fertilizers absorbed into the bark and sap of the tree will leach into the water and stagnant tree water can also harbor bacteria.
  • Pets, particularly cats, can be tempted to eat tinsel, which can block intestines. Hang tinsel high and securely.
  • Keep other ornaments out of reach of pets. Ingestion of an ornament, which might resemble toys to your pets, can result in a life-threatening emergency. Even ornaments made from dried food can lead to problems.
  • Avoid toxic decorations! Bubbling lights contain fluid that can be inhaled or ingested, snow sprays and snow flock can cause reactions when inhaled, styrofoam poses a choking hazard, tinsel can cause choking and intestinal obstruction and water in snow scenes may contain toxic organisms.
  • Keep candles on high shelves! It is not uncommon for pets, particularly cats, to knock over candles or burn themselves passing by an open flame. Remember those tails!!
  • Holiday guests and activity can be very stressful for pets. It can trigger illness and stomach upset. Make sure pets have a safe place to retreat to in the house. Also make sure they are wearing current ID tags in case they should escape out a door when guests come and go.
  • Reduce stress by keeping feeding and exercise on a regular schedule. Also, pets that are stressed may require more water than normal, so be sure to keep fresh water available.
  • Do not let guests feed your pets. There are many holiday foods, including fatty meats, gravies, poultry skin, bones, chocolate and alcohol, that can cause illness varying from vomiting and diarrhea to highly serious pancreatitis or allergic reactions.
  • Keep pets away from gifts and your gift wrapping area. Ingested string, plastic, cloth or even wrapping paper can lead to intestinal blockage and require surgical removal.
  • Keep pets away from garbage. Use pet-proof containers.

What to do if your pet ingests something dangerous?

  • If you suspect that your pet has ingested something toxic, immediately call your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-888-ANI-HELP.
  • If your pet ingests glass, staples or other sharp objects, call your vet and immediately administer the following remedy:

Tear cotton balls into small pieces (Make sure they are PURE cotton, not man-made fibers). Dip the pieces in milk or cream and feed them to your pet. (If your pet won’t eat them, try wetting the cotton first then dipping in something your pet likes, such as peanut butter, canned food or liverwurst). Dogs 0-10 pounds should be given 2 cotton balls, dogs 10-50 pounds should eat 3-5. The cotton will work through the digestive tract and wrap itself around any sharp objects, protecting the intestines from damage. Keep a close eye on the dog’s stool for the next several days and if you see blood or a strange appearance, get your pet to the vet immediately.

All of us at Buffalo Pug and Small Breed Rescue, Inc. wish you and your pets a happy and safe holiday season!!