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Happy Holidays ~ Keep Pet Safe While Decking the Halls

For NAPPS members and pet parents, the holiday season may be spent continuously trying to keep pets out of trouble. Here are some useful tips to keep pets safe while decking the halls.

If there is a Christmas tree in the home, make sure that the tree is safely secured so that it won’t fall if a pet jumps on or brushes up against it. It is also important to ensure that pets are unable to access the water in the tree stand, because it may contain hazardous chemicals and/or bacteria that can make a pet sick.. Additionally, pet parents should also take care to place breakable ornaments on the tree above their pets’ reach, and be vigilant about any fallen ornaments. If a pet takes hold of a broken ornament, the fragments can create serious intestinal issues, or even death. 

Even though tinsel on the Christmas tree looks pretty from a window, it presents another safety hazard for pets. Because of its sparkly appeal, pets may try to play with it and carry it in their mouths. This is especially dangerous for cats, because of the backwards-facing spikes on their tongue that make it impossible for them not to swallow things such as strings, ribbons, and tinsel. Any pet who ingests foreign objects such as tinsel or ribbon can choke, get dehydrated, or even sustain intestinal damage, requiring surgery.

Mistletoe and holly are two other common household decorations in homes during the holiday season, but should be kept away from pets because vomiting, diarrhea and cardiovascular problems can arise if a pet ingests them.

The holidays bring many delicious goodies to the home which also pose a danger to pets. Chocolate, which is always plentiful during the holiday season, can cause severe illness and even death to pets. Fatty foods can cause not only vomiting and diarrhea, but also pancreatitis. Meat bones can splinter and cause internal damage to pets. Make sure your holiday guests are instructed never to give your pets treats unless they are sanctioned by you, no matter how cute they look when begging!

Another danger is to guests. If they approach a pet who is unsure about them or even trying to hide, they may end up with an injury. Pets who are fearful because of their home suddenly being invaded by loud strangers are at increased risk for biting. These pets should be kept away from guests, and guests should be kept away from them. Pet parents should be sure to give pets extra attention during this time, so that they do not feel forgotten and potentially act out behaviorally (spraying, etc.). If a guest really wants to see a shy pet, a pet parent should supervise.

Extra wires laying around the house pose a danger as well. If a pet bites into a wire, it can send a lethal dose of electric shock to a pet’s system. In addition, a bad battery can cause a burned esophagus or mouth. . Pet parents should be sure to cover or hide wires as much as possible, and monitor them for bite marks. They should also turn off and unplug holiday lights when they are away from home.

In light of the many dangers that pets can get into during the holidays, consider keeping pets in a separate room, away from the temptations of the holiday festivities. This way, both pet parents and their pets can enjoy a safe holiday season.