We decided to do our own version of the “12 Days of Christmas” this past December. Check out these tips to help you care for your pets during the holidays!
1. A classic Christmas tree decoration loved by humans and cats alike, tinsel is on our list of don’ts this holiday season. If ingested, tinsel has the potential to cause an obstructed digestive tract that could lead to severe vomiting and dehydration. Treatment often includes surgery, so it’s best to find something less hazardous to trim your tree.
2. There’s nothing quite like the smell of fresh pine during the month of December. If you opt for a live tree this season, be careful to keep Fido away from the tree water. The fertilizer often added to tree water can cause upset stomach. Stagnant tree water is also a threat as it can grow bacteria over time and lead to nausea or diarrhea if consumed.
3. A Christmas staple and a definite temptation for every type of furry friend, Christmas lights are something to use wisely and cautiously this holiday season! Be sure to keep a close eye on your pets to prevent them from getting tangled, burned, or even worse, shocked from biting through wires. A helpful hint is to hang your lights in high places and to avoid letting cords dangle close to the ground.
4. If you are a lover of pretty glass ornaments, then this tip is for you! Glass ornaments are often colorful and shiny, attracting pets of all shapes and sizes. If your ornaments fall and break, broken glass can puncture mouths, pet paws and digestive tracts. Be sure to hang anything glass close to the top of your tree, out of reach from your pets!
5. Brown paper packages tied up with string (or ribbons and bows) are on our list of favorite pet tips this year. Although pretty bows and shiny ribbons are great additions to holiday gifts, they can be dangerous for your dogs and cats. If ingested, package decor can cause intestinal blockage and worse. Treatment includes surgery, and the condition can end up fatal. Also, when it comes to decorating your puppies and kittens this winter, bows and ribbons around their collars can be cute, but are a choking hazard. It’s best to stick with festively printed collars instead!
6. Holiday plants are common and beautiful embellishments to your home during winter; however, Mistletoe, Holly, and Poinsettias are all poisonous to pets. Some cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Others are more harmful causing mouth sores, difficulty breathing and even death. Be sure to talk to our vets for more detailed information if you plan on using live plants in your home this season.
7. Batteries are a common stocking stuffer and often a Christmas morning necessity. The moment after every present is unwrapped can be filled with a lot of excitement, so while getting everyone’s new gadgets and toys ready to use, try to keep battery installation isolated in one area of your home and away from the family dog. If punctured or consumed, alkaline batteries can lead to burns in the mouth and esophagus as well as potential surgery for removal.
8. We all know how hard it is to deny those puppy dog eyes, but no matter how much Buster begs, please refrain from feeding your family dog table scraps and leftover bones this holiday season (and really all year round). Cooked poultry bones can splinter and puncture intestines and stomach. Table scraps can often lead to pancreatitis, so it’s best to just stick to your dog’s normal diet even during the holidays!
9. It’s hard to stay away from sweets this time of year so many people choose to consume sugar-free items to help with their weight management and sugar intake. Although those goodies can be tasty and helpful for humans, sugar-free treats containing the ingredient Xylitol are highly toxic to your pet. Ingestion of Xylitol can rapidly poison your pet and can cause liver failure or hypoglycemia. Symptoms to look for are weakness, odd movements, vomiting and seizures. Keep mints, candies and other sweets out of your pet’s reach this season. If your pet does consume a sugar-free product, please contact our vets or a veterinary emergency hospital immediately.
10. Festive alcoholic drinks are often a popular addition to holiday parties, but alcohol is on our list of don’ts for your pets all year round. Consumption of alcohol is toxic to your pet and can send your dog into a coma or respiratory failure. Even small amounts of wine, liquor and beer can harm your pet, so refrain from any and all sharing with your four-legged friend. Be sure to keep your drinks out of paw’s reach and ask your guests to also keep their drinks on tall surfaces!
11. Tasty lunches and dinners with friends with family during the holiday season almost always guarantee an abundance of leftovers! Leftovers are great for those of us worn out from cooking and baking, but foil and plastic wrap have made their way to our list of don’ts for pets. If ingested, those helpful kitchen products can obstruct or damage intestines or cause choking. A few simple solutions are to make sure foil and wrap go straight to the trash if no longer usable or needed and don’t leave leftovers lingering on the counter while you’re eating in another room.
12. It simply wouldn’t seem right for that wonderful ingredient called chocolate to not make its way into your home at some point this winter, but of course, it’s on our list of definite don’ts all year round! The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is for your furry pals for a number of reasons. If you suspect your pet has consumed chocolate at all, call our vets immediately and be on the lookout for vomiting and diarrhea.