Keeping Pets Safe At Christmas

Sleeping dog next to Christmas tree

Christmas brings fun and excitement to the entire family, including your pets. Because there is so much going on, pets like to share in the fun. This article focuses on safety for pets during the holiday season, including a review of items that may be harmful (or fatal) to your pets.

Rally 'Round The Tree

One of the biggest hazards of a tree for your pets is tinsel. Dogs especially have a habit of eating tinsel, and the sharp edges of tinsel will slice up their entire gastro-intestinal system, causing internal bleeding. It may require surgery to remove. Even if it doesn't bunch up in the intestine, when a pet tries to pass tinsel it can cause damage to the digestive tract.

Pretty ribbons on presents present the same hazards. The downside to this is these objects most often do not show on x-rays, unless air is trapped around them. This can lead to very expensive diagnostics and treatment, and in the process threaten the life of your pet.

The Threat Of Ornaments

Glass ornaments on Christmas trees are always fragile, and can break easily. Cats especially like to bat at the shiny objects, especially when lit by Christmas tree lights. Breaking ornaments causes cuts to both you and your pet. A dog will sometimes pick up and swallow a small shiny ornament, causing internal bleeding or cuts in the mouth. Chewing small wooden ornaments causing a lead paint hazard, especially if that ornament is made in China. Hang wooden ornaments high enough on the tree so that pets can't reach them. Hooks used to hang ornaments can be swallowed, much akin to swallowing a fish hook. Hooks that fall on the floor and become embedded in carpeting causes a hazard for both your pets and you.

People Food Is Not Pet Food

The Christmas holiday is time for celebration, and many people try to include their pets. Don't make the mistake of feeding your pets any of the food you eat at the holidays. Especially threatening to dogs are chocolate, alcoholic drinks, raisins, and onions. Garlic and many spices also threaten pets, as do turkey or small bones from other fare. When baking, never give your pet any type of dough. The dough may rise within the pet's digestive system, causing fatal results. Coffee and coffee beans are also a hazard to pets. Be careful with plastic bags and plastic wraps. If food is stuck to these items, a dog will naturally try to eat it, ingesting the plastic in the process.

Other Holiday Hazards

Many people light a lot of candles at Christmas time. Unless you are using a soy-based candle, remember that they produce carbon monoxide while burning. This is not only hazardous to pets, but to humans, too. Because a home is usually sealed tight during winter months, this can be a very real threat. Many people use liquid potpourris to fragrance the home. The chemicals in them can prove fatal to dogs and cats if spilled, even if the pet gets it on their coat. Pet grooming will cause the pet to ingest these harmful chemicals.

Under The Tree

Always remember what a wonderful sense of smell your dog has. If there are presents under the tree that contains food items, he will find them and try to eat them.

These are particularly harmful:

  • Chocolate or other foods that are harmful to pets
  • Batteries are a particular threat if dogs chew them. They contain corrosive material, causing ulcers in the mouth and damage to the digestive tract
  • Many holiday plants such as poinsettias, mistletoe, Christmas cactus, and holly are toxic

The Tree

Do you ensure that the water for your tree is chemical free? Even if you do, the sap from the tree will enter the water, and along with bacteria, can be a threat. Always be sure the tree is secure so that the pets in their excitement don't pull or knock it over, causing injury.

Extra precaution should be taken during the holiday season to ensure your pets are safe. In the event that something unavoidable happens, keep your vet's phone number handy. Use common sense, and Christmas will be safe for not only your pets, but for you.