Just as the holidays require extra health and safety precautions for you and your family, there are special concerns for your pets, too. This guide gives you a heads up on pet health and safety hazards for your pet and how you can keep your pet safe and healthy.
Food safety: Special holiday foods may be a treat for your family, but lethal to your pet. The ubiquitous Christmas chocolates and candies, can pose health problems if you pet ingests and choking hazards if he swallows. Other foods dangerous to pets are onions, mushrooms, macadamia nuts and raisins. Beware of giving your pet any bones from the turkey or holiday bird. This causes choking hazards and internal injuries from sharp bones. Grandpa may like to feed your cat or dog tidbits from the table; if you care about your pet, you’ll insist that house guests observe your rules regarding pet safety. Keep any alcohol away from pets, too. No, it would not be cute to see how the dog acts after a glass of holiday punch. And remember who has to clean up when kitty tosses her Christmas cookies on the rug.
Holiday Plants: Cats are especially attracted to plants. Generally, those that are unsafe for you are unsafe for your pets, too. Plants with white berries, like mistletoe are particularly dangerous. Poinsettia and holly are not great for cats, but not as dangerous as people think. Unless you have a voracious poinsettia lover, they should be safe. Evergreen and Christmas trees are generally safe. NDRI lists safe and unsafe holiday plants for pets.
Holiday decorations: Cats and dogs are attracted to ribbon, wrapping paper, yarn, silk flowers, bead garlands, tinsel garlands, artificial wreaths and tinsel. These are all unsafe for pets to ingest and can cause choking. Avoid glass ornaments and breakable ornaments in your holiday decorating. Thin reflective glass balls shatter very easily and can cause injury to pets and family members. Nix the cute little holiday pets costumes, especially the kind with elastic cords to hold the hats in place. Dogs will suffer patiently; cats will chew the costume off and may choke on the elastic.
Electrical cords: Firefighters report that the holidays are the most dangerous time of year for electrical fires because people insist on overloading circuits. Reduce the number of cords, lights and electrical decorations both inside and outside your home. Your Christmas tree will look just as festive and be much safer to enjoy. Pets are in special peril from electrical cords as they love to chew on them.
Candles: As beautiful as a holiday candle is to look at it is that dangerous also. Monitor your Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa candles very carefully. Watch your pets around the candles also. A battery operated taper candle is very pretty and much safer, too.
House guests with pets: Whether it’s Aunt Mildew’s obnoxious Burmese ‘Mr. Snookypants’, or your bachelor brother’s Alsatian ‘Cujo’, other people’s pets can be a nuisance. And be sure that they will upset your pets, too. Your home is your pet’s safe place. It’s his house more than it is your house guests’ home. Ask guests and visitors to leave at home or kennel them. If you are kind enough to open your home, your invitation should not extend to miscellaneous pooches and kitties.
May your holiday season be happy, safe and healthy for your family and your pets.