By Shayna Meliker | November 29, 2016
The holiday season should be a time for making happy memories with our families — and that certainly includes our pets! Unfortunately, there are many seasonal dangers for cats and dogs that could ruin a Christmas or holiday celebration.
Unsecured Christmas trees
Christmas trees are beautiful — and not just to us humans! Our pets may also be intrigued by this strange seasonal appearance. Make sure your Christmas tree is secured and weighed down so that curious cats and dogs can’t knock it over easily. Always supervise your pet when she’s around the tree. And if you happen to have a real tree, prevent pets from drinking the water — the bacteria and tree food it contains can cause severe gastrointestinal problems.
Speaking of Christmas trees, your beloved ornaments might look like perfect, bite-size snacks to sneaky cats and dogs. To help ward off an ornament ingestion emergency, place ornaments high up on the tree, way above where pets can reach, and tie them tightly.
Now’s the time of year when we have light strings and extension cords hanging throughout our homes that aren’t typically in our — or our pets’ — environment. Take care to tie back or tape down all loose cords so that pets can’t chew or get tangled up in them.
Just like electric cords, tempting decor is probably popping up throughout your home this holiday season. Make sure you move any surface decorations that pose a choking hazard out of reach, including dreidels, nativity scene pieces, tinsel and ribbon. If you typically decorate your home with potpourri, be very careful to never let your pet get near it — liquid and dried potpourris can be toxic.
This one is tricky, because it’s not your typical festive holiday hazard. But cats and dogs who have access to the garage may come into contact with antifreeze during the winter months. Many antifreeze formulas contain chemicals that are highly toxic to animals if swallowed, which can happen if your pet is attracted to the sweet smell of the chemical or if she steps in it and then licks her paws. Always keep antifreeze and other chemicals far out of your pet’s reach.
If you’re like us, you’d probably agree that so many holiday memories are made in the kitchen. But there’s a whole slew of foods we love that can poison our pets: chocolate, alcohol, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, coffee and more. And bakers, beware: Uncooked dough with yeast will still rise if ingested, which can result in a trip to the emergency vet.
Whether you’re baking ham, turkey or another variety of meat for your holiday dinner, never give your pet bones. They can break teeth and cause mouth injuries, intestinal damage or obstruction.
Check with your veterinarian to find out which holiday delicacies you can share with your cat or dog. Some pets may be OK to enjoy a small bite of turkey once in a while, but don’t go overboard with the table scraps. Consuming a lot of fat can cause gastrointestinal irritation or even pancreatitis.
This goes for any time of year, but our warning is especially important during the colder months: Keep open flames inaccessible to animals. Be vigilant and do everything you can to prevent accidents involving candles, menorahs or fireplaces.
You may already know to keep your cats and dogs away from poinsettias, which can cause stomach irritation if eaten. Add holly, lilies and mistletoe to that list of toxic plants— they can all cause severe damage and should be inaccessible to pets.