The holiday season is a festive time to share with friends and family, but it can also pose a number of hazards for other members of your family—your beloved pets.
We only want the best for our furry friends, and taking a few preventive measures can ensure your dog or cat doesn’t get sick.
Poinsettias are beautiful, festive plants used to decorate your home during the holidays. Although poinsettias are usually hyped as a poisonous plant, they are mildly toxic to animals. The following holiday plants are the ones you really need to watch for.
- Christmas tree needles: Vacuum any fallen needles around your tree. Christmas tree needles aren’t digestible and could potentially puncture your pet’s gastrointestinal tract.
- Holly: Holly is another plant commonly found in your home during the holidays. Ingesting either the leaves or berries could cause Fido to have digestive tract issues as they both contain soap-like chemicals called glycosides.
- Mistletoe: Mistletoe is usually hung in a doorway to steal a smooch from your sweetheart. Make sure mistletoe is secured safely out of the reach of your pooch. This plant and its berries can also cause gastrointestinal or cardiovascular effects.
- Lilies: All members of the Lilum genus are extremely toxic, especially for cats. It may not be a common winter plant, but lilies are commonly found in many floral bouquets. Ingesting just a small amount of petals or pollen can cause debilitating and possibly fatal acute kidney failure.
Holiday gatherings usually mean eating a lot of tasty food. It can be tempting to give little treats to your animal. However, many holiday treats, such as chocolate and candy, can be deadly. Chocolate contains substances called methylxanthines, which can be toxic to pets if ingested.
Other toxic foods and drinks to avoid include onions, garlic, milk, nuts (almonds, macadamia, walnuts), raisins, and xylitol (a sweetener found in gum, candy and baked goods). Are you still not sure which foods are safe? Try feeding your furry friend some healthy homemade treats and avoid feeding them any of these human foods.
Holiday decorations may not appear to be hazardous, but some mischievous animals are attracted to shiny ornaments, tinsel, ribbons, and lights. If your pet is a chewer, keep all decorations and electrical cords far from their reach. Prevent your cat or dog from ingesting any ribbons or tinsel, as it can be a choking hazard and even twist in their intestines, posing the need for emergency surgery.
If you have a live Christmas tree in your home, the water located at the base of the tree could also be harmful to your cat or dog. It can contain fertilizers and bacteria, which can upset their stomach if ingested.
The key to keeping your four-legged family members safe is prevention. Keep any hazardous food or decorations in a separate room. If you are away from home, keep your animal confined to a room or crate.
If your pet is injured or poisoned, contact your veterinarian immediately or call poison control for emergency assistance:
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center – 888-426-4435 ($65 consultation fee)
Pet Poison Hotline – 800-213-6680 ($39 per incident fee)
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Photo Credit: Cristina Cheatwood; Shutterstock / Sue McDonald