Safety Tips for Pets at Christmas

There are so many things that change in your home during the holidays! Packages coming to the door, lots of new people in and out, decorations, big meals with special food, wrapped gifts, and best of all a new tree in the main part of your home. As much fun as this can be, it can also pose some stress and risks to your pets.

How can you enjoy the holidays and activities as well as keep your pets safe? Here are some important tips:

 

Packages Delivered at the Door

Pets can slip out the door in a heartbeat and be gone. Keep a collar or harness securely on your pets with ID tags showing your cell phone number. Be sure your pets are microchipped in case they escape all that. Or keep an exercise pen (X Pen) set up at the door so you can open the door but your pets can't escape.

 

Electric Cords

The skinny little cords that are on the Christmas tree lights are not well insulated and are easy for a puppy or kitten (or even adults!) to chew into. Electrocution is the result. The cords should be covered with corrugated or plastic cord covers, available at hardware stores or online, so your pets remain safe. Also, keep the lower branches of the tree free from lights so they are too high for your pets to reach. If your pet is biting on a cord, don't reach for the pet as you too can get shocked - unplug the cord or flip the switch first!

 

Christmas Tree

Christmas trees are in danger of falling over with your pet's help. You can easily tether the tree to the ceiling with a plant hook secured into the ceiling and a thin wire or fishing line. Yes, you can still put a topper on the tree! Enthusiastic Labrador tails or kitten scampering up their new-found scratching post will appreciate not having the tree fall over on them. Also, avoid pine needle and tree water ingestion.

 

Keeping Special Ornaments Safe

Hang unwrapped candy canes and bells on the lower branches of the tree. The bells will alert you to your pet's exploration of the tree. The candy canes are non-toxic and these along with the bells are a great way for you to set up surveillance of the tree from across the house. Either keep your special breakable ornaments at the tops of the tree or in storage the years you have young dogs and cats romping through the room with the tree. Or you can surround the tree with an X Pen. Be certain your pets are not munching on ornaments.

 

Tinsel and Other Long Skinny Items

Tinsel, yarn, strings and other items with long strands are fascinating to your pets, especially cats. The barbed tongue of a cat prevents them from spitting out a strand, so they continue to swallow it. Avoid using these products in areas where pets will find them. Avoid strings of popcorn and cranberries as they set up our pets for ingesting the strings.

 

Toxic Foods

Surprisingly, there are several foods that humans can safely eat that cannot be safely consumed by our pets. Thes include chocolate, raisins and grapes, macadamia nuts, alcohol-containing candies, and sugarless products containing Xylitol. Avoid putting food-containing packages under the tree, wrapped or unwrapped, when your pets will be in the room unsupervised. An alcoholic drink innocently set on a low table or the floor can be quickly raided by a pet, leading to serious consequences.

 

Meats, Cheeses, and Bones

Wrapped meats and cheeses are gifts that are often wrapped and under the tree. Too much fat from these can be dangerous. Bones and fats from ham, turkey, and other meats can cause pancreatitis or intestinal blockages. Mesh wrappers and leg holders on meats can also smell tempting but can cause bowel obstructions. Empty the garbage cans before your pet can find them.

 

Dog Treats

Keeping your family safe from well-meaning friends! Make sure you identify which home-made treats are meant for your pets and which are for your family and friends. More then one innocent husband has snacked on pretty doggie cookies!

 

Plants

Mistletoe and Holly are very toxic. Yew, the evergreen many people have in their landscaping is extremely toxic. Avoid bringing clippings of these plants into your home to use as garland unless you can identify the variety. Poinsettias are not toxic, but any plant ingestions can lead to oral irritation, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

 

Candles and Oils

Candles are easily tipped over and pets can venture too close to the flames. Even potpourri oils are dangerous when licked from the source or off their coats. Place these items high or avoid them altogether. Use plug-in room scent products instead.

 

Sidewalk Salt

Avoid using regular sidewalk salt and instead, use clay cat litter (it tracks but it works well) or pet-safe sidewalk salt products. Wash your pet's feet if they do track though salt that isn't pet-friendly.

 

Antifreeze

Ethylene Glycol (antifreeze) is highly toxic to pets. It is sweet and is liquid when other water sources are frozen. Ingestion initially will mimic alcohol consumption, and will quickly lead to irreversible and fatal kidney failure. Keep antifreeze wiped up and stored in covered containers. Make sure pets have an unfrozen water supply available to them when they are outside. Heated water bowls can be purchased, and usually, have a wire coil surrounding the cords to keep pets safe from chewing through a cord leading to electrocution.

 

We hope these safety tips help you and your pets have a safe and happy holiday season! But if something should happen and your pet gets into something they shouldn't have, then please contact us right away! Some potentially fatal dangers can be avoided if prompt action is taken. If an emergency should happen after hours you can call our regular number at 920-269-4072 and after a short delay while the call is transferred our answering service, which is staffed with Certified Veterinary Technicians, will help you asses if urgent action needs to be taken.