CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY HAZARDS– By Karen “Doc” Halligan
Pretty decorations and lavish meals play an important part in most holiday celebrations, but what may seem harmless and fun for you and your guests may be very harmful to your pets. Holiday spikes in pet accidents are largely due to changes in routine, amplified stress, more household traffic and eating unfamiliar foods. So, before you start celebrating, spend some time planning and preparing for the well-being of your cat or dog to keep them safe from holiday dangers. These easy steps will help:
Try to keep pets on their regular schedule for feeding and exercise as much as possible.
Provide plenty of love and attention, so they don’t feel left out.
Be absolutely certain that pets have current I.D. tags on at all times. This is important throughout the year, but especially during the holidays because there’s a greater risk of your pet escaping when your guests come and go.
When there’s a party, put your pets in a separate room with some toys and a soft place to lie. Playing, soft music, especially classical, also helps them to relax. They’ll feel safer and less stressed.
Be aware of what your pet is playing with. Ham and other meats may come packaged with string wrapped around them. Pets may swallow the tasty packaging, which can be disastrous.
Keep pets away from candles—they can tip them over or get burned.
Some holiday plants such as holly, lilies, mistletoe and hibiscus are toxic to pets, so make sure they’re out of their reach.
Never put ribbon or yarn around your pet’s neck. If ingested, they can damage their intestines.
Do not allow your pets to play with items not specifically made for cats and dogs—such as plastic or foil wrapping, and six-pack beverage holders.
Keep ribbons, rubber bands, flower arrangements, electrical cords and all holiday decorations away from curious pets.
Advise overnight guests to keep prescription and nonprescription medications out of reach. Medications not meant for pets can be very harmful.
Never give your pets bones. Cooked bones splinter and can be fatal to pets. If you’re serving turkey, make sure you tie up the carcass in a plastic bag and dispose of it outside.
Don’t feed them holiday treats or leftovers, and make sure they can’t get to candies and snacks. And caution others (both kids and adults) not to give your pets anything except their normal treats.
Use Christmas tree decorations wisely. Icicles and tinsel are often irresistible to pets, especially cats, and if ingested, they can cause blockages in their intestinal tract.
Lights can cause electrical burns, electrocution or choking if pets chew or play with them.
Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers or bacteria that can upset pets’ stomachs and lead to vomiting or diarrhea.
Safely secure Christmas trees to a wall or ceiling. This will prevent the tree from toppling over should your pet decide to jump on it.
More Christmas tree advice:
If you have a live Christmas tree, keep the water stand covered or purchase a water container that doesn’t allow pets access
If you can’t cover or hide electrical cords try putting bitter apple spray on them to prevent pets from chewing on the cords
To keep pets away from the tree place a barrier such as an exercise pen, sold at pet stores, around the tree
Keep pets in a separate room when you are not home to avoid any tree mishaps
Decorate the bottom third of the tree with non-breakable, plastic or wooden ornaments as shark breakable ornaments are very dangerous to pets or decorate only the top two-thirds of your tree.
Hang tinsel, garland, ribbons and flashing lights higher on the tree where pets cannot see or reach them
Pick up any ornament hooks, tinsel or ribbon that fall on the floor immediately