Notes From the Vet, Dr. Jim Lowe-Precautions to Take During the Holidays

Our four-legged companions are family members, and as such, we wish them to be included in all activities around the holiday season.  Some precautions should be taken, however, as the festive season can present new hazards in the life of your pet.

  1.  Many types of holiday décor can be dangerous to your pet.  Tinsel, straw, pine needles can provide choking hazards.  Holiday statues, table displays, pillows, etc. can be irresistible to the inquisitive pet and be choking hazards if chewed upon.   Tree ornaments can represent choking hazards or obstructions if swallowed.
  2. Bowls of treats are often placed on end tables and entry ways for holiday visitors, offering pet’s access to potentially toxic ingredients.
  3. A myriad of plants often seen around the holidays can be potentially dangerous for pets.
  4.  Poinsettias contain a sap that can be irritating to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract of dogs and cats.
  5. The Christmas cactus can cause a “thorny” issue for your companion.
  6. Pine needles can potentially cause gastrointestinal upset.
  7. Make sure the Christmas tree is secured well to a wall to avoid toppling should cats view it as the new cat condo.  Also pay attention to placement of ornaments as those dangling baubles can be seen as toys.  Protect light strands from curious pets as chewing can lead to electrical burns.
  8.  Never allow your dog or cat to have a turkey bone as they are extremely soft and can splinter easily when chewed.  This also means the trash should be kept secure from pets at all times.

In the zeal to decorate for the holidays, it is easy to fail to look at your home from the perspective of your pet.  Tree location and security, access to treats, and exposure to holiday plants should all be evaluated closely to avoid potential issues during the holidays.

One final thought.  While the music, the lights, the food, the visitors, and the parties are welcome and offer treasured holiday memories, not all pets enjoy this time of year.  Loud noises, bright lights, strangers, and parties can disrupt your companion’s normal routine and be a coping challenge to them.  Consider a behavioral supplement, like Tomlyn’s Relax and Calm Chews, that will address these issues so that they may enjoy the holidays as well.