Top 10 Holiday Pet Hazards

The holidays may be the happiest time of year, but it can also be the most hazardous for your pet. Common holiday decorations and the festivities that accompany the holidays can be dangerous, if not tragic, if the proper precautions are not taken. Make sure the humans in your household are aware of these ten common holiday dangers for dogs and cats. 

Holiday Pet Hazards1. Christmas Trees 

Pets are curious, so make sure your tree is properly secured. If you know your dog or cat likes climbing in trees, anchor the tree top to the nearest wall using a rope or strong cord. Don’t forget to make sure the water in the tree stand is inaccessible to your pets — preservatives, sugar and aspirin additives in the water can cause your pet to have a very upset tummy if ingested.

2. Pine Needles

Opting for a real tree or decorating with wreaths? Frequently check the areas around your real foliage. If ingested, sharp pine needles can puncture your pet’s intestines.

3. Holiday Plants 

Holiday plants can help your home feel like a winter wonderland but they can also cause severe medical distress if ingested by your pet. Holly and mistletoe are extremely poisonous. The white sap of those pretty poinsettias can cause gastric distress, too. If you choose to decorate with plants, keep them out of your pet’s reach.

4. Christmas Ornaments 

Keep sharp and breakable ornaments, dreidels, and string objects (including tinsel and ribbons) out of your pet’s reach. Avoid edible or aromatic ornaments. If ingested, these items can seriously damage your pet’s intestines and stomach.

5. Electrical Cords 

Beware of electrical cords from your festive holiday lights. Cords should be secured and out of the reach of curious puppies and kittens who like to chew.

6. Candles 

Never leave lit candles unattended. Place candles away from curious pets to limit the chance of an accident caused by a wagging tail or playful paw. A better option may be to opt for flameless, electrical candles instead.

7. Bones 

Those tasty holiday meals may yield an excess of seemingly tasty bones. Don’t feed them to your pets! Small bones or bone chips can become lodged in your pet’s throat, stomach or intestinal tract.

8. Fat 

Indulging this holiday season? Aren’t we all! While it may be tempting to treat your furry friend, please don’t. Food high in fat, like poultry skin and gravy, can cause serious gastrointestinal upset. 

9. Alcohol 

Keep alcohol and food containing alcohol (e.g. rum cake or rum balls) out of reach. Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma, and even death.

10. Stress and Company 

With family and friends coming in and out of your home, be cautious of open doors. Your pet should have a collar with ID tag on at all times as well as a microchip (make sure contact information is current). Ask guests to be careful when entering or exiting your home, and remind visitors that while your pet is friendly, the holidays and added stress of company may cause him or her to be shy or unenthusiastic. Set up a quiet retreat in an area of your home with blankets, fresh water and toys for your pets to go to if the festivities get too stressful.

With a little extra effort, your four-legged family members can enjoy the holiday season just as much as those with two legs. And if you think your pet has ingested something potential poisonous or dangerous, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (888-426-4435) immediately.

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