Christmas Countdown Pet Care

Christmas Countdown 4- Keeping Your Pet Safe from Holiday Hazards

The holidays are such a joyous time- decorations, family, parties and presents all add to the fun. With all the activity. it can be easy for pets to get into trouble without being noticed. Since we don’t want the celebrations to end in tragedy, it’s important to know what can be hazardous.

Christmas Tree Hazards

  • Tree stand– water additives can be harmful if your pet drinks it.  I cover the top of the stand with foil'Just one bite!' photo (c) 2009, Justin + Elise Snow - license: to keep thirsty pets out.
  • Garland and tinsel– these string-like decorations can cause major intestinal problems.  If your pet has eaten any contact your vet.  If you see it is working its way out of your pet’s butt, DON’T pull to get it out, let it go or trim so just a short end is out if it bothers your pet.  Pulling could cause the intestines to telescope in on themselves.
  • Ornaments– these can be made out of anything from glass to food.  Keep an eye on your pet so they don’t eat them.  Clean up any broken glass ornaments to keep your pet’s feet safe.  A wet cloth run over the area will help get those small pieces missed by a broom.
  • Lights– some animals have a thing for biting electrical cords.  Not exactly a healthy habit to have as they can get badly shocked.
  •  Tree– the tree may be hard for some pets to resist climbing into.  Christmas trees in tree stands really aren’t sturdy enough to hold a cat, ferret or parrot and may topple over, hurting your pet in the fall. Pine needles and branches might be chewed or eaten and could cause digestive problems. Sap on the tree could get on your pet where licking it could cause problems.
Present Hazards
  • Ribbon– ribbon can cause the same problems as garland and tinsel.  Though pretty, it might be best to not use on presents your pet is going to open.
  • Styrofoam Packing Peanuts-it’s great when the delivery man brings presents from someone out of town, but watch where those packing peanuts are.  Small critters like ferrets, might find them fun to play with and fun to take a bite of which can lead to an intestinal obstruction.
Decoration Hazards
    'The Greatest Present' photo (c) 2005, Kerry - license:

  • Candles– Candles should only be used when you are present.  An unattended candle could be knocked down or a passing pet could get burned or catch on fire.
  • Plants– Holly, Mistletoe and Lilies add to the holiday atmosphere, but they can also be toxic to your pet.
  • Bubble Lights– these contain a liquid called  methylene chloride that causes skin irritation and digestive problems.
  • Potpourri– liquid potpourri  smells nice but it’s not meant to be ingested or get in eyes or on skin. Some pets might find it very appealing so don’t leave your pet unattended around it.
Food and Cooking Hazards
  • Chocolate– Tasty for humans, chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine which can cause neurological problems as well digestive problems.
  • Nuts– Some nuts like almonds and pistachios can cause stomach upset, while others have toxins that can cause major problems.
  • Candy– Sweets really aren’t good for pets, but most importantly is staying away from candy that contains xylitol, an artificial sweetener. that is toxic to dogs.
  • Baking– uncooked dough that contains yeast can expand in a stomachs and cause digestive issues.
  • Too Much Food– One thing everyone loves about the holidays is the food and pets love it just as much as people.  Too much food, fatty foods and bones can cause anything from diarrhea to the more severe pancreatitis.
  • Teflon– when Teflon becomes overheated, it releases fumes that are deadly to parrots.  Some kitchen equipment and heaters also contain Teflon that can be a problem.  To be, safe items that have Teflon shouldn’t be used.
People Hazards
  • Stress– The holidays bring family, strangers and friends into their home sometimes all at once.  While many pets don’t mind meeting new people, others become stressed by all the hustle and bustle.  They would probably do best being kept in a quiet area of the house.
  • Escapes– With everyone coming and going and can be hard to keep track of a pet’s whereabouts in the crowd making it easy for one to slip out the door.  Making sure all pets are in their cages, on a leash or tucked away in a quiet part of the house will keep everyone  safe and sound at home.
By knowing what can be a potential danger for pets and taking a few precautions everyone can enjoy a safe and happy holiday!


'Wee Westie Christmas 2007' photo (c) 2007, Randy Robertson - license:

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