However you celebrate the holidays, it’s quite possible that you decorate. Some folks go to such elaborate pains, they could put Rockefeller Center to shame; others keep things simple, yet elegant. But whether you dress things up just a touch or are the envy of all who catch a glimpse, are you aware of the potential pet hazards?
Some holiday greenery could spell trouble for dogs and cats, especially when bitten or ingested. Holly could cause depression, diarrhea, drooling, or intense vomiting. A single lily leaf—any variety—could be fatal for your cat. Mistletoe could cause breathing difficulty, collapse, diarrhea, erratic behavior, hallucinations, vomiting—even death. Pine needles could cause diarrhea, lethargy, mouth and stomach discomfort, vomiting, or weakness. Poinsettias could cause mouth and stomach discomfort, and vomiting. The sap is irritating, and a pet may drool and paw at his mouth in response. As much as possible, remove plants from Rover’s reach. (And keep an eye on the puppy! You know she gets into everything …)
Food for thought. Not for Fido.
Holiday foods may be fine for us, but not for our pets. Chocolate: The darker and richer, the more toxic it likely is for the dog. Problems include diarrhea, heart arrhythmias, hyperactivity, seizures, tremors, and vomiting. Fatty foods, fat trimmings, and bones: Too much fat could cause pancreatitis, and bones could splinter (causing internal lacerations or obstructions) or cause choking. Grapes and raisins could cause kidney failure; dogs who’ve eaten these may have abdominal pain, decreased appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, shivers, or weakness. Nuts aren’t safe, either: Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts could cause stomach upsets or obstruction; macadamia nuts and moldy walnuts could be toxic, and could cause neurological problems or seizures. Onions could cause hemolytic anemia. Symptoms include breathlessness, diarrhea, lethargy, and vomiting. Toxicity may build up over time, and anything containing onion is dangerous for pets.
(That traditional New Year’s Eve champagne? Don’t let pets near it, or any alcoholic products. Alcohol could cause dangerous drops in blood pressure, blood sugar, and temperature, and lead to seizures or respiratory failure. Keep coffee and other caffeinated beverages out of reach, too.)
It’s a little bit cute when the kitten bats at ornaments. But your well-decorated fir isn’t off the holiday hook. Ornaments are curiosity objects with harm potential. Small ornaments could cause blockages or illness. Fragments from breakable ornaments could cause choking, or lacerations in your pet’s mouth, throat, or intestines. Tinsel isn’t toxic, but it is attractive to some pets, who ingest it because of its movement and could end up with an intestinal blockage or worse.
(And try to keep “climbers” out of your tree. It’s amazing how much trouble one cat could cause when pulling down an unsecured tree. You may end up bidding a number of treasured ornaments farewell.)
Similar to tinsel, bows and ribbons move and are interesting to many pets. Swallowed ribbons could cause choking, intestinal damage, or death. Strings from holiday parcels pose the same hazards, as do the savory strings that held the turkey together as it roasted. If your pets are “Dumpster divers,” make sure anything stringy is somewhere they won’t find it.
Holiday lights and candles should be out of paws’—and tails’—reach. Candles are a fire hazard under the best circumstances, and could burn a pet’s paws or fur (or worse). A tipped-over candle could set fire to its surroundings, and hot wax is a burn hazard for people and pets. Holiday lights may be as tempting as tinsel—with the added “shiny” factor! If your pet is a chewer, electrical cords could cause lacerations, shock, or death. Unplugged light strands could pose a choking or blockage hazard, and could entangle your pet.
May your days be merry and bright—and may your pets be safe and sound. Happy holidays!
Written by: Amy L Charles is the editor at Serendipity Media, West Michigan Woman’s publishing company. She loves working with words and is known to create haiku on a whim. She lives in one small home with three tall dogs, hence her lack of holiday decorations.