Dr. Julie Damron

3 minutes reading time (630 words)

Keep your pet safe from holiday hazards

There are several items associated with this time of year that can pose a threat to your cherished companion. Here are some potential concerns.

The Christmas tree can be a danger in several ways. The sharp needles if ingested can irritate the intestinal tract. Tinsel is also an irritant. Both these items can cause stomach upset or blockages if ingested in large quantities. The lights can be a source of electrocution if the cord is chewed on. Small ornaments can be ingested. Glass ornaments can cause damage to the mouth and intestine if broken or eaten. Some of them also give off a toxic chemical when heated that can be damaging to the eyes, skin, respiratory tract, and kidneys. The tree water preserves can be toxic. The presents can also be a problem if there is a lot of ribbon used on them.


I suggest surrounding the tree with a gate or exercise pen to reduce access to it; also make sure that your tree is secured well in the stand so that it cannot tip or fall. Vacuum or sweep up loose needles daily. Don’t use tinsel-especially the individual or icicle strands. Don’t have ornaments or lights on the lower 2 feet of the tree to limit access, and don’t use decorations that are smaller than the size of a fist. Don’t keep the lights plugged in when you are not present, and don’t use chemical preservatives in the water. Don’t use a lot of ribbons and bows on the packages, or keep them in a separate location until you are ready for them.

There are many plants that also can be a problem. Mistletoe is toxic if ingested. Poinsettias are toxic if ingested. Lilies are toxic, especially to cats causing intestinal and heart problems. Holly is also toxic. Please keep all of these items out of reach, or consider using silk flowers instead.

Items from the dinner table can also be harmful to your cherished companions. Please do not feed foods that are spicy or high in fat to your pets. Ingestion of these foods can cause a range of problems from diarrhea and vomiting, to Pancreatitis. Do not give bones as they can cause irritation, intestinal tears, or blockages. Grapes or raisons can cause permanent kidney damage. Chocolate is also another significant concern, especially dark chocolate as it is more concentrated. Also keep items that are soaked in alcohol such as rum balls or fruit cake out of reach. Items that are cooked using artificial sweeteners can also be harmful. Many animals are hospitalized every year after Christmas due to eating people food or bones.

Other decorative items can also pose a danger to your cherished companions. Be careful if you light a fire. Make sure you use a protective screen, and supervise the fire to protect your companions from getting too close. Make sure no hot embers are left in the fireplace. Cover electric cords with protective tape, and don’t leave decorations plugged in when unattended. Electrocution is a serious and potential deadly threat to your canines and felines. Don’t use scented oils, or keep them out of reach. They are toxic to felines.

Here are a few additional safety reminders. If your pet doesn’t do well with a lot of company, keep him or her in a separate room or consider boarding them during times when you have a lot of visitors. Sedatives or stress relieving items such as a Thunder shirt can be very helpful. Also consider having a party at an another location. Make sure all of your pets have collars with current identification as well as microchips. Keep all of your pets indoors at night or during bad weather.

I wish you and your companions a healthy and happy holiday season.

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Sunday, 26 January 2020

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