Keeping pets safe during the holidays

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 5, 2010

Our pets are part of our family and some holiday decorations are dangerous to pets. We have a real tree, so there will often be scents and smells that interest our four-footed crew.

This means that we tie the tree to the top of the banister so it does not come crashing down. Pine needles can be toxic and irritating and therefore should not be eaten.

Likewise Christmas tree water can have tree preservatives and irritating pine tar and should not be drank.

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If your pet has any inkling toward chewing electric cords, hide the lights cords well or crate your pet when they are not attended.

Flashing lights are more attractive than regular cords, so be careful.

Many pets think that ornaments are toys and try to play with them. Broken glass ornaments cut paws and tongues. At our house the glass ornaments go high on the tree and there are some special pet safe ones at the bottom of the tree.

Tinsel is probably top on the danger list. Not that any of you have tried this, but think of how hard it is to get dog hair out of your mouth with fingers.

Tinsel in a pet mouth is almost always swallowed. If it catches on something in the intestines, the intestines will continue to try to move it out but it just results in sawing holes in the intestines.

Cats love to chew ribbon and it can do the same thing. Even with surgery this is often fatal. Angel hair can both slice intestines and cause blockages.

Poinsettias have a reputation for being toxic and they are, but not nearly as much as people think.

Holly leaves, holly berries and mistletoe are also toxic. Remarkably Christmas cactuses are not.

Oh, and the presents under the tree, don’t think for a second that the pets don’t know which ones have what type of chocolate, food or something they like to chew.

The pretty paper may hide the contents from humans with their lousy senses, but dogs and cats might has well have x-ray vision when it comes to presents.

Other holidays have hazards also. In addition to Thanksgiving leftovers, Easter grass and Easter Lilies at Easter, candy at Halloween, fourth of July alcohol are all dangerous to pets.

I have to write about what I know. Our house celebrates Christmas with a tree and all the trimmings, but I am certain the holidays of other religions decorate with pet hazards also.

Regardless of the holiday you celebrate, please think about all the dangers in your house for all your members. And Yappy Howlidays!

Dr. WIXSOM owns and practices at Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods, Ky. More info at www.Guardian or 606-928-6566