6 Pet Safety Tips for a Hazard-Free Holiday

The most wonderful time of the year can also be the most hazardous for household pets. From festive foods to shiny new “toys,” temptation abounds.

With all the hustle and bustle it can be difficult to keep watch over pets at all times. Before you know it, your days can go from merry and bright to a scary fright.

Want to save Santa the trouble of visiting your fur baby in the animal hospital? Below are some precautionary measures to keep cats and dogs safe from holiday hazards this season.

1. Know Your Holiday Plants

One of the greatest holiday myths to plague the general public is that poinsettias are poisonous to dogs and cats. While they can cause mild irritation, drooling is the most common side effect. Same goes for Christmas Cactus which are also mostly harmless.

Still, there are some holiday plants that pets need protecting against. If your animal gets ahold of mistletoe or holly, oh by gosh by golly you better get them to the vet! Symptoms can range from vomiting and diarrhea all the way up to heart arrhythmia.

Should you choose to keep either in your home during the holidays, secure the sprigs on high to avoid foul play.

2. Safeguard Against Tinsel and Ribbon

Colorful or shiny tinsel and ribbon are like magnets for playful pups and curious kittens. But these holiday decorations aren’t just pretty, they’re also pretty dangerous. Each presents a two-fold choking hazard that can get wrapped around the neck or lodged in the windpipe if eaten. They can also create digestive blockages and intestinal damage when ingested.

If possible, leave ribbons off ground-level gifts and relegate tinsel to out of reach portions of your tree and garland.

3. Keep Electrical Cords Out of Reach

Pets often confuse electrical cords with chew toys. Their shape has even been known to initiate hunting instincts in both cats and dogs. With the number of lights and extra electrical wiring around, it’s important to keep watch and secure excess cordage to prevent electrocution.

Always remember to unplug lights when you’re not home to monitor your pet’s interaction with them. You can also set them on a timer to avoid nighttime mishaps.

4. Don’t Share Your Holiday Foods

We’ve said our piece about sharing turkey with your pets. In general, most vets agree that pets and people food don’t mix. But there are some snacks that are more than simply discouraged. At least a few are extremely toxic to cats and dogs. Some of the top offenders include chocolate, grapes and anything in the onion family.

Other holiday foods are mostly innocuous, but without knowing you could still be putting your pet at risk. For instance, Xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, is found in a wide variety of holiday treats. Even relatively small amounts of it can lead to liver failure or spike blood sugar levels to a dangerous place.

Generally, regardless of whether or not a dish is known to create digestive complications, table scraps are rarely a good idea. If you want to reward Fluffy or Fido with a special holiday treat, stick to all-natural kibble or meat-based wet foods and treats.

5. Careful with the Christmas Tree

A nice full spruce isn’t poisonous and the pine needles aren’t likely to cause harm your pet, but that doesn’t mean Christmas trees are entirely safe for pets. Start by ensuring the tree is secure in its holder, lest a rambunctious pooch or raucous kitty cause it to topple.
Avoid placing fragile ornaments on low-hanging branches, too. If they shatter, the shards could easily injure you or your pet.
Can’t imagine Christmas without a real tree? Just be sure to leave the fertilizer out of tree water. Should your pet drink treated or stagnant water, you can bet vomiting and diarrhea are soon to follow.

6. Be Mindful of Menorahs and Dreidel Dangers

If your holidays are of the Jewish persuasion, make sure to take care when lighting the candles on your menorah. Letting them burn out is a beautiful part of the Hanukkah tradition. However, it’s important cats and dogs can’t gain access. Keep menorahs burning in a room that’s cordoned off or otherwise inaccessible to your pet. Cats and candles are a notoriously bad mix.

Dreidels are equally symbolic and also present potential pet challenges. What cat or curios pup wouldn’t love a cute spinning top? To avoid choking or stomach punctures, keep pieces a safe distance from pets when in use and put away all other times.

Holidays are about spending time with loved ones, not vet techs. Though wrapping paper and décor may look unassuming, they’re among a collection of holiday hazards that pose substantial risk to pets. Taking care to avoid an unwanted pet emergency will help you and yours enjoy the magic of the season.

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