Christmas Dangers for your Pets by Lisa Michalik

Ho! Ho! Ho! Happy Holidays everyone!

Christmas is such a fun time of year but sadly it’s also one of the most dangerous ones for our furry family members. Here are some tips and reminders of hazards to watch out for to keep your pets happy and safe over the Holidays:

Christmas tree – Many pets are intrigued and highly inclined to climb or play within the tree. Not only is there a risk of entanglement from the wires of the lights, there’s also a risk of the tree toppling over which could start a fire or injure your pet or anyone else who may be nearby. Many dogs and cats are also drawn to the water reservoir of real trees – this can often cause gastric upset.

Tree lights and decorations – pose an electrical shock risk (if the pet chews on them), lacerations from broken bulbs or ornaments, choking hazard, foreign body obstruction due to ingestion. We even had a cat come in one year with a tree ornament dangling from its paw – The hook was lodged under the skin. Tinsel is NOT recommended at all. If ingested one single strand alone CAN cause choking hazard and/or obstruction. If ever you see tinsel (or anything else) hanging out of your pet’s bum you can try to gently pull it out (NEVER pull aggressively). If it does not slip out with ease your pet should see the veterinarian.

Christmas presents – pose a choking hazard if your pet gets curious enough to chew them open. Ribbons and bows, paper etc. The gifts inside can pose a choking hazard as well as toxicity and/or gastric upset.

Christmas Dinner – The all-time favourite Turkey Dinner and trimmings also pose a choking hazard (bones) as well as serious gastric upset. Pancreatic attacks are high during this time of year and can easily land your pet in the hospital for up to a week which is not only excruciatingly painful for your pet but also sours everyone’s holiday. Not to mention the added veterinary expense during this already financially stressful time of year. Also everyone loves to win over the family pet by offering little treats and tidbits… but keep in mind that if ALL 10 of your holiday guests offer Fido a little morsel it ADDS up fast and can create upset stomach in a hurry.

Door Dashing – visitors to the home may not be aware that you have a pet or aware that Fido or Fluffy is a door dasher. Either keep pets safety confined when guests are visiting or warn your guests to keep an eye on open doors.

Remember that Christmas, while fun and exciting for your human family members can often be a very chaotic, confusing and unsettling for your pets. Always offer your pet a safe haven (ie: spare bedroom or crate) to retreat to when s/he’s feeling overwhelmed. Never force your pet to be involved with the Christmas festivities – allow him/her to decide on their own when they want to participate.

Christmas is NEVER a good time to bring a new pet into the home. There’s just too much hustle and bustle to allow you to devote the time needed to help a new pet adjust to a new home. If you’re thinking about giving a pet as a gift perhaps consider a gift certificate from the Humane Shelter/breeder or even a picture of the new puppy (and then wait until things settle down AFTER the holidays to bring the new addition home)