Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree…

Your beautiful Christmas tree poses many unforeseen dangers to your pet, starting with the water. Pets have a much lower line of sight, and to them, a bowl of water is a bowl of water, whether there’s a Christmas tree in it or not. The problem is that pine sap mixed with water, fertilizer, and additives make that Christmas tree water toxic to your pets. Also, stagnant or long-standing tree water can harbor millions of bacteria, which, if ingested by your cat or dog, will cause nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.

  • To solve this problem, be sure to use a water container that doesn’t allow your pet’s access to take a drink. Such containers are usually available wherever trees are sold.
  • Christmas tree needles, live or artificial, are toxic, sharp, and indigestible. They can get painfully lodged in the esophagus or intestines.
  • Christmas tree lights can cause electrical burns, choking, or electrocution if pets play with or chew on them. Be sure to turn off all Christmas lights when you’re not around.
  • Decorating the Christmas tree requires creativity. Having cats or dogs in the household adds a whole new factor to the equation. Shiny glass ornaments, angel hair, twinkling lights, gold tinsel, and icicles are all irresistible toys for cats and dogs. Everything on the bottom third of your tree is up for grabs. Sharp breakable ornaments, small dreidels, ribbons, bows, ornament hooks, tinsel, and icicles are all very dangerous to pets. Every year, some poor cat or dog actually ingests a broken glass ornament, only to seriously lacerate the inside of their mouth, stomach, and intestines. Even wrapped candy canes can be ingested, causing serious problems.
  • One solution is to decorate the bottom third of your tree with items less likely to cause trouble, such as wooden, metal, or resin-cast ornaments. Hang your treasured baubles high on the tree where they won’t get knocked down and broken or, worse, eaten by your cat or dog. I’ve been to homes where trees could win prizes incorporating these ideas, so be creative and just keep your cat or dog in mind when you decorate that tree.
  • Last but not least, make sure to secure the tree to a wall or ceiling, as cats and dogs are notorious for knocking that well-adorned tree right over. Falling Christmas trees not only hurt pets but can create a potential fire hazard as well.
  • With the hustle and bustle of Christmas, many pet owners are stressed trying to get ready for out-of-town visitors, decorate the tree, bake cookies, buy presents, and entertain. Guess who else is stressed? Your cat or dog. They easily sense your stress and this alone makes them panic, never mind all the other distractions.
  • Remember to try and stick to your pet’s normal exercise and feeding schedules. Dogs and cats need routine. Don’t forget to lavish them with love and attention instead of goodies or snacks. An occasional treat is okay, but don’t go overboard. They don’t know the difference. Sometimes guilty pet owners will give too many treats trying to make amends to their furry friends. Don’t; instead, lavish pets with hugs and kisses.
  • Pets can get accidentally stepped on or tripped over, so if you plan on having a party or lots of visitors, either set up your pet in a separate, quiet room or keep a closer eye on your pet. It only takes one unfocused moment or a turned back for a happy holiday to turn into a horrible one.
  • And remember that this time of the year many animals get lost, so be sure all pets have a current ID tag with updated information.
  • Dogs and cats will be curious about any new item or decoration in their environment. After all, it’s their home, too, and they need to inspect anything unusual to assess the situation, especially cats. Even just moving furniture can set some animals into a panic, since their normal environment is changing and this stresses them out.
  • Christmas time brings all kinds of unique hazards for your pets from Hanukkah candles to decorative wreaths. Many a pet has gotten tangled up and even strangled by indoor holiday lights.
  • Christmas stockings full of tiny toys, candy, and presents need to be safeguarded.
  • When lighting candles, the menorah, or advent wreath, make sure to keep pets away from the flames. They can easily get burned. Fireplace colors or salts added to give your fire a beautiful glow, are toxic to pets if ingested.
  • Hide or tape all exposed electrical cords to the walls or floors so pets won’t chew or trip on them. You can also spray the cords with bitter apple. This is an over the counter spray available from your vet or pet store that has a very bitter taste and will discourage your pets from chewing.
  • Liquid potpourris are dangerous if spilled or ingested by your pets, causing severe oral, facial, and eye damage.

Holiday plants may be lovely and festive, but many can cause digestive upset when nibbled or eaten; some are downright toxic when ingested. Here’s a rundown of the toxicity level of the most popular Christmas plants.

  • Mistletoe—all parts are toxic, especially the berries, which contain a natural compound that can cause heart problems
  • Ivy—all parts are moderate to very toxic
  • Holly—moderate to very toxic, especially the berries and leaves
  • Mistletoe—all parts are toxic, especially the berries, which contain a natural compound that can cause heart problems
  • Christmas rose—all parts have moderate toxicity
  • Philodendron—all parts have moderate toxicity
  • Dieffenbachia—all parts have moderate toxicity
  • Christmas greens (such as balsam, juniper, cedar, pine, and fir)—all parts have a low level of toxicity
  • Hibiscus—may cause vomiting or bloody diarrhea if ingested
  • Poinsettias—leaves, and stems are low in toxicity but will cause stomach upset if large amounts are eaten
  • Candy isn’t good for you and it certainly isn’t good for your pets. Aluminum and plastic candy wrappers have great texture, bright colors, and crinkly sounds that intrigue cats and dogs. Pets often will unintentionally consume these items while playing with them. This can lead to stomach upset and/or intestinal blockage.
  • Many dogs possess a fondness for chocolate, which can be deadly. Be on the lookout for yummy-smelling packages under the tree. Your dog will surely sniff out and potentially consume these dangerous gifts. Keep all chocolate in sealed containers or cupboards and off shelves, countertops, and coffee tables. Never leave pets unsupervised in the kitchen.
  • Don’t put out bowls of nuts. These seemingly harmless snacks can cause intestinal upset or choking if ingested by your pet.
  • Never give pets breads or baked goods. Yeast and dough are very dangerous. When eaten the dough will rise and expand in the stomach, causing abdominal pain, bloating gas, vomiting, disorientation, and depression.
  • All holiday treats are harmful to animals; this includes alcohol, rich fatty foods, scraps, candy, and bones. Just say no to any holiday food for your pet. If you feel you must cook for them, go ahead and bake some safe cat and dog treats.
  • Live puppies and kittens are not toys or gifts and should never be given as presents. Animal shelters across America are flooded with unwanted pets after the holidays when reality sets in that this “gift” is a living, breathing creature with lots of needs. Subsequently, people readily discard them.
  • Don’t let pets play with things like wrapping paper, ribbons or bows, or packaging material of any sort. Many pets will inadvertently swallow them, resulting in choking, upset stomach, or intestinal blockage. In general, don’t let pets play with items not made for them. This includes foil, plastic wrap, six-pack beverage holders, and batteries.
  • Cats love to play with all kinds of string and, yes, they will sometimes eat it. So don’t give them access to a string of any sort, ribbons, rubber bands, strings of lights, cords, and especially tinsel and icicles.
  • Remember to check with your vet’s office to see if they have reduced hours over the holidays and ask where you should take your pet in the event of an emergency. Have this number handy just in case.
  • The best presents you can give your pet are health, your undivided attention, and lots of love.
2018-12-15T06:44:43+00:00Categories: Pet Tips|0 Comments