Follow tips to avoid holiday hazards for pets

  • Sunday, December 22, 2013

With the holiday season upon us, it’s always nice to spend time with your family, including those with four legs. While Charleston Animal Society understands that pet owners want to celebrate the season with their furry companions, it’s also important to remember that this festive time of year can also hold potential hazards for them.

Dr. Lucy Fuller, director of public health at Charleston Animal Society, offers the following guidelines to assure pets and their owners have happy, healthy holidays:

Make sure your Christmas tree is secure to prevent it from tipping over and possibly falling on your pet. You should also be mindful that the stagnant water in your tree stand contains bacteria that can cause stomach distress.

Holiday décor can be as dangerous as it is charming. Wires can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and shards from breakable ornaments can injure a pet’s mouth. You should especially avoid using tinsel as a decoration. Cats in particular are attracted to tinsel, which, if swallowed can obstruct their digestive tract and lead to severe vomiting and dehydration. Sometimes obstructions are so thorough that they can only be cleared through surgery.

While attractive and festive to us, holly and mistletoe are extremely dangerous to dogs and cats. If ingested, holly can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in pets. Mistletoe may be even more dangerous. In addition to gastrointestinal upset it may also lead to cardiovascular problems.

Candles are appealing to pets, but a potential danger to all. Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets lured in by the pretty flame may burn themselves or even knock candles over and cause a fire. Make sure they are in holders and placed on a stable surface.

Keep them away from treats and leftovers. Many holiday goodies contain chocolate which is poisonous and potentially fatal to pets. It is also important to keep them away from unattended plates of food and garbage cans, which are sure to be laden with fatty, spicy foods, some of which may contain bones. Don’t forget to be careful where you leave your cocktails as well. Remember, they often contain alcohol, which can make pets ill and even lead to comas, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

Be mindful that the celebrations associated with the season can be unnerving to our furry companions. Make sure your pet has a quiet place to retreat, complete with fresh water. It may even be necessary to provide them in a room in a separate part of the house.

Be cautious when choosing stocking stuffers. Some of the cutest-looking dog toys are easy to tear apart and their parts can get lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Chew toys that are basically indestructible are the best option. When picking out toys for your kitty, make sure to avoid ones with ribbon or yarn which can get stuck in their digestive tract. A stuffed catnip toy or an interactive cat dancer are much safer and just as entertaining.

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