As we’re getting ready for the holidays, we really do have to keep in mind that many of the things we do and foods we make are hazardous to our loved ones. The furry ones — not the human ones, although I know many families who feel the holidays are hazardous to their own health.
No, we have to be careful with the furballs who really don’t understand that chewing on the cord leading to that big, brightly lit tree could cause an electrical shock, which can range from a minor zap to instant death. Those pretty, blinking lights are a huge temptation to curious pups and kittens. To be on the safe side, you should make sure that all electrical cords are in good condition and out of reach. If you cannot keep the cords off the floor, check regularly for any sign of chewing or fraying. Using a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution isn’t a bad idea.
Then there’s the Christmas tree itself. Its not uncommon for a poorly secured tree to fall on a rambunctious pet as they race around or try to climb it. Chewing on pine needles can cause GI irritation and perforation. If you’re sticking with a real tree, a Douglas fir or white pine is your best bet. The needles won’t stick to your pet’s paws and they tend to stay on the tree longer. If you have glass ornaments, you might want to hang those higher. An ornament might look like a ball to be played with, but a broken ornament will do some major damage to a dog or cat’s mouth. Also, some Christmas trees may contain additives and preservatives, which leech into the water and can be toxic if ingested. I don’t think I really have to get into the damage that tinsel, yarn and ribbon can cause if ingested. Let’s just say that it can involve intestinal tract blockage and/or possible perforations.
And then there’s foods and sweets. Small turkey and ham bones can lodge in the throat, stomach and digestive tract which would require surgery to remove. Plus, any fats and gravies you might add to your pets’ food can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Most pet owners know that chocolate is a huge no-no for pets, but do you know that the darker chocolates are the worse? Resist putting gift wrapped chocolates under a tree. A dog can sniff that out in about three seconds flat. Remember that any cookies left out for Santa shouldn’t have chocolate in them … or Macadamia nuts, for that matter. These can make a dog sick, and can even cause temporary paralysis. Keep those candy dishes covered to thwart the temptation of playful paws fishing them out.
We’ve been lucky in that the cat has little interest in the tree other than making herself comfortable on the tree rug and occasionally swiping a bow from a package. This will be the dog’s second Christmas with us, but so far he’s shown little or no interest in the holiday decorations. So let’s keep our furry family safe over the holidays. Take those few extra precautions and perhaps everyone will have a wonderful holiday season.