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Holidays and Your Pets

Image of a dog and cat wearing Santa Claus hats

Keeping Your Furry Friends Safe During the Holidays

It’s December, which means it’s time for holiday fun. Regardless of which holidays you celebrate, one thing to keep in mind is the safety of your pets, especially when it comes to decorating.

As we all know, and as is written in the contracts with our pets…they simply have to get into everything. Every type of holiday decoration is free game for our little and big guys, so it’s best to exercise some holiday safety when decorating during the season.

Holiday Decorations

On the First Day of Christmas, you Get a Christmas Tree

If you celebrate Christmas, there’s nothing more festive than a decorated tree in your home. Regardless of the size, trees can be an alternate playground for your pets, especially if you have cats. They can climb the tree and if it’s not mounted properly, knock it over. Make sure that your tree is firmly mounted and weighed down to prevent toppling over. It’s not just the tree that can fall over, but also any ornaments that hit the floor can break, and water from the tree base can spill out, which your pets shouldn’t drink as it may contain fertilizer from the cut tree. Tree water can contain harmful items such as bacteria, leading to nausea and even diarrhea, if ingested.

The Problem with Tinsel

Tinsel is glittery and glitzy and shiny and very attractive to cats. Originally made out of metal, mainly shredded silver and tin foil, today, most tinsel is made out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with a metallic finish. While it’s attractive to cats and they’re bound to want to play with it, they can easily chew on it and swallow it…which can lead to digestive obstructions, excessive vomiting and possible choking. If you must have tinsel, find a way to keep it out of reach from your pets, such as hanging it in a place where it’s hard for them to reach, or just avoid it entirely.

Mistletoe, Holly and Other Dangerous Plants

Holiday plants are pretty to look at and brighten up your home, but they can also be very dangerous if your pets ingest them. If your pets should ingest holly, they may experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. While you should only be kissing under the mistletoe, if eaten by your pets, they can experience serious gastrointestinal and cardiovascular issues. Poinsettias can be dangerous as the leaves produce a sap that is mildly toxic and can irritate your pet’s mouth and esophagus. In most cases this is not fatal, but it’s better to be safe than sorry; if you suspect any type of plant poisoning, bring your contact your Austin vet right away. If you must have any of these plants, go for a plastic or silk option, which you can find at most arts and craft stores and be sure to keep them out of reach of your pets.

Candles, Electric Lights, and Ornaments

It’s very tempting to have holiday candles aglow at this time of year, but caution should also be exercised in that your cat or dog doesn’t knock them over and cause a fire. If you choose to burn candles, find safe and durable candleholders that are less likely to tip over. And just to be safe, place them in a location where your pets won’t be able to come in contact with them. Also, always extinguish your candles if you aren’t in the room, leave the house, or go to sleep.

Electric lights are a major element to any Christmas tree, but they can also cause a hazard. If you have very old lights, there is a chance that a spark can cause a fire in your tree. Even if these lights have sentimental value, you may want to invest in new ones, but be sure that you’re getting ones that are safe and quality made; there are far too many low quality manufactured lights out there that just aren’t safe.

The other problem with holiday lights is that your pets may feel the urge to chew on them. Not all cats and dogs do this, but there are a few who find electrical wires to be a snack. Chewing through the wires can cause electrical shock and burns that may have you spending your holiday at your Austin vet’s office. One way is to wrap the wires with thick tape, so that your pet is unable to chew through it; the stickiness of the tape can actually be a deterrent as it may taste funny to them. Concealing the cords can also help, but be sure that the lights aren’t coming into contact with any flammable blankets. And always unplug your lights should you leave the house or go to sleep.

Tree ornaments can also fall victim to your pet’s curiosity. Many ball shaped ornaments are made out of glass, metal or plastic. Always shiny, your pets may see these ornaments as toys, and knock one or two off the tree causing them to shatter. These breakable shards can get in their paws and cause major issues if they decide to eat them. Always place these types of ornaments high enough so that your pets can’t get to them. It may also be worth doing this if you have small children, so that they don’t get hurt as well.

Other Potential Dangers

Food Risks

One thing that’s always a major part of the holidays is turkey, ham, duck and an abundance of cookies, candy and plenty of sweet and gooey junk food. Of course it’s a given that you should keep your pets away from all of this, but we all know how curious they can be.

Make sure that your holiday dinner isn’t accessible to your pets. There will most certainly be some begging for food, and you may feel inclined to give them a little something, but you must resist the urge, even during the season of giving. Your holiday dinner may contain ingredients and spices that can be very harmful. Keep them away from bones and anything fatty, which can be harmful. Ingredients such as onions, citrus and salt, to name a few, can cause major problems if your cat or dog ingests them.

If you’re eating dinner, try sequestering your pets from the dining room, and give them approved chew toys or their regular pet food while you’re eating. Once the temptation of human food, which always intrigues them, subsides, you’ll be able to eat your holiday dinner in peace.

Ringing in the New Year

If you’re having a New Year’s bash, items such as confetti and streamers can be very intriguing to your pets, so be sure to keep them away form them as they can cause major intestinal problems if they’re ingested. Cats and dogs are also very sensitive to noise, and with New Year’s comes plenty of fireworks. If the noise gets very intense outside, find a safe space such as an extra room that can help cut out the noise and keep them from being scared. If the noise gets very loud, sit with them and reassure them that they’re safe and out of harm’s way.

Contact Us

We all want to have a safe and pleasant holiday, and if you take some of these precautions, we hope you’ll have a safe and stress free one. However, our pets get into things they shouldn’t and they get sick. If your pet has an issue or you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Happy Holidays!