Holiday Hazards

We would never want to think that the winter holidays would be anything but a happy time for our pets and certainly we would never think of the word “hazard” but unfortunately, it is a time that veterinary clinics see a lot of dogs and cats for a various number of reasons related to this special time of year. Choking, stomach upsets, intestinal obstructions, and poisonings are many of the reasons dogs and cats end up in emergency hospitals over the holidays.

The Lights and cords on Christmas trees can cause burns or electrical shock if chewed on by pets. The bulbs, if broken can cause cuts on your pet’s paws or cuts in the mouth. If you have a curious dog or cat, you may want to consider not putting the lights on the lower branches.

Tinsel is very pretty on trees but can cause intestinal obstructions. Cats especially seem to like to chew on tinsel.

Live trees smell nice and are definitely prettier then artificial ones. If you decide to get a live tree this year, please keep a few things in mind.  The tree oils in coniferous trees can be irritating to the mouth and stomach of pets. Also, if you notice your dog or cat suddenly scratching after putting your tree up, it could be due to allergies or tree mould. Some other concerns with live trees are that the needles are sharp and could puncture your pet’s intestines or can cause stomach upset.

Secure your tree if you have an adventurous cat or kitten to prevent the tree from falling over.

Tree water can contain resin, pesticides and flame retardant. Keep the water container covered.

Ornaments made of glass are tempting toys and if broken, just like bulbs can break and can cause cuts on/in the mouth and paws.

Edible tree decorations such as cranberry or popcorn strings and even candy canes could result in an overturned tree.

Plants and Flowers like Mistletoe, Holly and Poinsettias are toxic or irritating to pets. Fortunately, they are bitter so most pets will stop chewing once they have a taste. Lilies and Baby’s breath are frequently found in flower arrangements, so watch that your kitties do not jump up on tables or counters and chew on these flowers or just remove them all together.

Candles give a beautiful atmosphere to a room but if you have a curious cat that likes to jump, the candles can become a fire hazard. It does not take long for a fire to overtake a room simply from an accidental flick of a tail knocking a candle over. Although not always as pretty, consider substituting with battery operated imitation candles.

There is always a lot of food around for us to enjoy during the holidays. Please remember that chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats, turkey bones can cause obstructions, grapes and raisins (often included on cheese platters or in cookies) are toxic, and fatty leftovers can cause stomach upset. Keep in mind a dog’s keen sense of smell and their love of chocolate. Because of this, they are able to search, find and make a feast of wrapped up chocolate that is under the tree. Also, a popular food gift, are boxes of aged cheeses and deli meats. They are very fattening and are high in nitrites and sodium that can make a pet very sick.

Christmas Collars are popular during the holidays but please practice the same safety tips that you would for a regular dog or cat collar and use one has a breakaway safety option.

Be cautious of ribbons, stuffed animals and small toys when opening gifts as these can cause choking or a stomach obstruction if chewed on or ingested.

If you notice that your pet is not eating, vomiting, has diarrhea, is straining to defecate, lethargic, shaking or has severe tremors, or anything else that is not normal, please call us or an after-hours clinic immediately.

Please always be aware of the environment in your home during the holidays, to ensure a happy and safe time for your furry friends.

Happy Holidays to you from all of us at the West Hill Animal Clinic.

Written by Sarah, CCR