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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jaax & Staff

Holiday Pet Safety Tips

Remember That Chocolate is Toxic

Chocolate is not for pets. The less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it can be. Make sure to keep all chocolate out of reach and remember that a shelf is not out of reach for cats. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, hyperactivity, and seizures. Get help immediately (don't wait until the next morning) for a pet with these symptoms.

​Do Not Give Holiday Leftovers

Keep the holiday leftovers away from your pets to avoid stomach upset. Poultry bones are especially dangerous.

​Use Caution with Unattended Alcohol

Be cautious with unattended alcohol drinks that could make your pet sick if ingested.

​Keep Christmas Tree Water Clean

Christmas tree water in the stand might contain dangerous fertilizer. Also, stagnant water is a breeding ground for bacteria. If you’re using a live tree, do not add chemical preservatives or aspirin to the water. Put aluminum foil around the stand to keep your pets away from it.

​Wrap or Tack Down Electric Cords

Tack down all exposed wiring so it’s not tempting. Wrap or shield electric cords that cannot be tacked down. Plastic tubing for this purpose can be bought at hardware stores.

​Use Christmas Tree Lights Cautiously

Beware of the lights on your Christmas tree that may look like something to chew. Keeping lights off the lower branches may help avoid an accident.

​Don't Use Tinsel

Tinsel is pretty on the tree, but not in your pet’s mouth so it may be best to keep the tinsel off the tree. Ingesting this can cause serious blockages requiring surgery.

​Don't Use Angel Hair

Angel hair shouldn’t be used since it’s made of spun glass and can cause irritation on contact.

​Use Safe Ornament Hooks

Ornament hooks that can snag an ear or tail shouldn’t be used. If swallowed, the hooks can lodge in the throat or intestines.

​Secure Christmas Tree

Make sure your tree is secure, possibly even tied to a hook in the ceiling or wall. It might look like a fun place to play and hide for your curious cat.

​Use Safe Ornaments

Check all ornaments for possible dangers such as small and sharp parts that can be ingested. Glass balls can break in your pet’s mouth. Use only safe ornaments that won’t shatter when they become your pet’s batting toy.

​Use Caution with Tree Strands

Cranberry or popcorn strands around the tree can be very dangerous causing intestinal obstruction, or getting wrapped around your pet’s neck.

​Beware of Poisonous Plants

As you receive your holiday floral arrangements, remove the poisonous flowers. Lilies can cause kidney failure and death and poinsettias can cause vomiting and nausea so keep these plants out of the house. Why not try a silk floral arrangement instead?

​Cut Off Shopping Bag Handles

Cut all of the handles off your shopping bags that your pet can reach so that he doesn’t get his neck or paw caught.

​Use Candles Cautiously

If you like candles, try the kind that use batteries since the possibility of burns to your pet, or a fire when a candle is knocked over, is just not worth the risk.

​Leave Pet Home

If you’re traveling over the holidays, consider leaving your pet at home instead of taking him with you, or having him boarded. Your cat will appreciate being in his own environment with daily care from someone.

​Check for Toy Hazards

Check out the toys your children and pets receive as gifts since small parts can be a choking hazard to pets (and your children).

​Use Caution with Household Chemicals

When cleaning your house before guests arrive be sure to keep household chemicals out of your pet’s reach.

Have a Safe Room

When entertaining with friends and family, give your pet a safe place to retreat where it’s calm and quiet with his own litter box, toys, beds, and food and water bowls.

​Watch for Escapes

Be careful that no accidental escapes happen when your guests are entering and leaving. It may be best to put your pet in his safe area while guests are arriving. Just in case, make sure your pet has a collar with identification and/or a microchip.

​No Guests' Pets

Ask your guests to leave their own pets at home. Your pet may not appreciate a visit from an unfamiliar dog or cat, and will just add to his stress.

​No Ribbon

Remove the ribbons from all packages. Ribbons are extremely dangerous since they can cause strangulation, choking, or intestinal blockage. For your packages, bright paper will be just as attractive and much safer!

​Don't Give a Pet as a Gift

Don't give a pet as a surprise gift. The holidays are not conducive to introducing a new pet into a home, and the recipient may not want a pet. If you know for certain that the person wants a pet, just give a card with a note that after the holidays you'll accompany your friend or family member to a shelter.

​Skip the Potpourri

That pine scented potpourri may smell wonderful, but if ingested by your pet, it can cause vomiting, stomach upset, and possibly liver damage. In addition, liquid potpourri can cause severe burns in a pet’s mouth if it’s ingested.

​Use Mistletoe Cautiously

Keep the mistletoe out of reach since it can cause serious health problems if ingested by your pet. Remember that hanging mistletoe will be even more attractive to your cat so make sure he can’t reach it if you're going to use it.

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