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Nanaimo Veterinary Hospital

Christmas Pet Safety Tips

December 12, 2013

It seems like it was just a short while ago that we were warning you about the potential dangers of Halloween, and now another holiday season, fraught with potential dangers for our four-legged family members, is upon us. Naturally, it’s not all doom and gloom – Christmas is about joyful times with friends and family, including the furry ones – but a few simple safety precautions can ensure that everyone stays happy and healthy, and avoid trips to the emergency room.

  • What’s Christmas without a tree? If you want your tree to remain standing, however, it may make sense to anchor it to the ceiling or wall, particularly if you have young or exceptionally energetic pets.
  • Christmas tree water: Some pets, for whatever reason, prefer novel sources of water – the toilet or puddles, for example - to the fresh, cold water in their bowls. For that reason, be sure to put up some sort of barrier to prevent your pets from drinking the Christmas tree water, which can contain pesticides and/or bacteria.
  • Decorations: Say no to tinsel! The long, thin, shiny  strands can get swallowed, and then cause obstructions in the gastro-intestinal tract, leading to serious illness. Depending on the demeanor of your pets (how apt they are to be interested in dangly or sparkly things), it may also make sense to hang your ornaments, and perhaps your Christmas lights, on the higher, out-of-reach tree branches.
  • Fallen pine needles, although not poisonous per se, can cause gastro-intestinal issues if they are ingested and get stuck in an animal’s throat, or worse, puncture their intestines.
  • Under the tree: Much like tinsel, those fancy bows and ribbons can look tasty to a curious pet, but can be extremely harmful if ingested.
  • Chocolate: Most, if not all of you, know that chocolate is highly toxic to dogs and cats, but do your non pet-owning friends and family members know? Be sure to put any gifts that you know or suspect may contain chocolate, somewhere out of your pet’s reach.
  • Other food items, such as the artificial sweetener Xylitol, macadamia nuts, raisins, grapes and onions are toxic to dogs. Spicy foods, fatty foods, chicken bones, and a whole host of other human edibles can be harmful to your pet. Play it safe and keep any food trays well out of pets’ reach and ask any guests not to feed people food to your pets.
  • While poinsettias are less harmful to pets than commonly thought, holly and mistletoe are both harmful to dogs and cats if ingested and all types of lilies are highly poisonous for cats. Play it safe and opt for false festive greens during the holidays and year round.

 

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