Keeping Your Pets Safe at Christmas

Cat looking at Christmas Lights - Keep Your Pets Safe at Christmas
Courtesy of Adorable Animal Photography

Christmas is a beautiful time of year filled with lights, decorations, parties and meals spent with friends and family. It is a time of distraction with lots to do and not as much time to relax and keep an eye on what everyone is up to. All of the trimmings of the season can also be dangerous to your pets. Here are some important tips on keeping your pets safe at Christmas.

The season is a time of wonderment for your dog or cat. There are new things to explore that they do not normally see in their day-to-day lives. Glittery things, things that light up and blink, new smells from holiday candles, Christmas trees and, of course, all of the goodies in the kitchen that go along with the holiday can appeal to their senses and encourage them to investigate. They need to know how these things fit in their world and, of course, whether they are good to eat!

Keeping pets safe from Christmas decorations

Many of our typical holiday decorations can cause havoc on our dogs or cats’ digestive system. If ingested, and many of them can cause serious illness to your pet. Consider these tips when decorating for the holidays.

You should secure your Christmas tree with a stable stand. Avoid glass ornaments as they can be a hazard (and a mess) if they fall off the tree. Decorate the bottom of the tree carefully. Use decorations that cannot be eaten or will not entice your cat or dog to play with them. If you have a real tree, keep the water in the stand out of sight. That way, your furry friends will not be tempted to squeeze under the tree for a drink. Secure and hide all cords for lights on your tree.

Tinsel – can you imaging what this will do to a cat’s stomach and intestine if eaten? Eating or even licking tinsel can lead to a very unpleasant stomach.

Salt and Dough Ornaments – although ornaments made from salt dough don’t smell particularly appealing to us, your dog or cat may think differently. Salt toxicosis causes vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, lethargy, excessive thirst or urination and coordination issues. This can result from eating these ornaments, so hang them high on the tree.

Wrapping Paper – clean up bits and pieces of ribbon and wrapping paper that hit the deck when you wrap gifts. If it looks pretty, it must taste good, right? Keep wrapped packages hidden or out of reach until Christmas morning.

Snow globes – many imported snow globes contain antifreeze which can cause kidney failure and even death. If you have them, put them where they cannot wind up broken on the floor.

Lights and Batteries – those beautiful fairy lights you use for decorating can be harmful to a cat or dog. After all, to understand how something works, doesn’t it need to be chewed? Keep these out of reach of inquisitive minds.

Poinsettias, Mistletoe and Ivy – the leaves from poinsettias can cause your dog stomach upset and/or diarrhea if eaten in large quantity. Berries from mistletoe contain polysaccharides, alkaloids, and lectins. When eaten, mistletoe can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Eating ivy, amaryllis or Christmas cactus will cause the same symptoms. Certainly, this will go a long way in ruining Christmas for everyone.

Candles – you should light these only when you are in the room. Your pet can knock a candle over and cause a fire hazard. Keep candles out of reach from larger dogs who tend to eat everything they come in contact with. Some Labs and Golden Retrievers are famous for this. Opt instead for LED candles.

Christmas foods that can be dangerous for your pets

Dog-with-Christmas-cookie

Making cookies and other Christmas goodies is part of a traditional holiday for many pet owners. The smells that you create in the kitchen are simply irresistible to our furry friends. You can bet they will be waiting to taste your creations.

Here are some foods to watch out for keep your pet safe at Christmas.

Artificial Sweeteners – many bakers cutting back on sugar make recipes for Christmas cakes and cookies that use artificial sweeteners. These contain Xylitol which, even small amounts, can cause low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure or even death in dogs. There are many recipes on the Internet for cookies that are safe for dogs at Christmas.

Chocolate – contains theo bromide which can cause muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack.

Grapes and Raisins – keep both of these far away from your dog and cat. Eating these can cause acute kidney failure and even death.

Garlic, Chives and Onions – all of these are no-nos. They come from the allium family and are poisonous to dogs and cats. Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate which is also toxic to cats and dogs. It can cause red blood cells in your dog or cat to burst. That certainly gets our attention, right?

Macadamia Nuts – these little jewels are so good and many pet owners splurge on them for the holidays. No slipping one to your dog or cat. Eating macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hypothermia in dogs.

Blue Cheese – Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton all contain a mycotoxin called roque fortine that is naturally produced by various fungi. Why would we want to add mold to our pet’s diet? Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton are also high in fat and sale, both of which are a danger to your pet.

Other tips for keeping your pets safe at Christmas

Set Rules – make the rules clear to your guests. There will be no feeding your pets anything except treats that you have made available for them. Bag up special treats for them before everyone arrives. Your guests will love to give your pet a special treat. It is great way to introduce them to your cat or dog. Some great yummies are a small piece of plain cheese, lowfat dog or cat treat or a carrot or biscuit that you have broken up. It is better than your guests slipping them what they think will make your pet happy.

Christmas Cheer – libations for your pets are out. Gather up any glasses left unattended, and watch out for those punch bowls. Alcohol can be deadly for a dog or cat.

Seasonal Grub – Salty, spicy and fatty foods should stay on your plate including turkey, stuffing, onions, casseroles and nuts. They are too rich for your dog or cat’s digestive system. Who wants to clean that up in front of your guests while dressed in holiday garb?

Watch the Trash – keep garbage cans closed securely. Scavengers can work fast and it is no fun to clean up garbage spilled all over your kitchen floor.

Safe Spaces – Make sure that your pet has a safe place to retreat to if things get overwhelming.Pets who are untrained, hyper, aggressive, territorial or just plain shy should be confined during holiday parties.

Get Moving – exercise your pet before the gathering arrives, if possible. A tired dog will be more likely to be less active during the merriment.

Traveling – find some great tips on how to keep your pets safe when traveling during the holidays here.

Some simple adjustments can go a long way when keeping your pets safe at Christmas. Who wants to rush their best friend to an emergency hospital during the holidays? Have a wonderful and fun season with your family and your pets.


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