The holiday season is supposed to be merry and bright, however, those glittering lights, trimmed trees and tempting treats can make this time of the year dangerous for our furry friends. To keep it a furry merry holiday, here are some simple holiday safety reminders for the festive season.
Keep your pets safe from holiday hazards
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree!
A sparkly decorated tree is a staple of the festive season, but they are especially risky for cats. Remember that it’s standing on the floor, and your cat loves to climb trees instinctively. One way around this is to consider anchoring your tree so it can withstand the most intrepid explorers. It should also stop the tree from tipping or falling and injuring your cat or dog.
There are also some things to consider if choose to have a real pine tree for the holidays - Christmas tree pine needles and Christmas tree water. Not only are the needles sharp and can easily puncture your pet’s tongue, paw or intestines, but the tree stand water may cause vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy if ingested and may lead to emergency hospital visits.
Be sure to sweep up tree pine needles daily, and supervise cats and dogs that like to hang around under the tree. Better yet, skip the real pine tree this Christmas.
Top tip: The Yours Droolly Dog Crate can keep your pets safely away from the tree when you are not home to supervise. Alternatively, keep your sparkly decorated tree in a room you can close off from your pets. This will protect your tree and any gifts left underneath from Santa Claws.
All that glitters isn’t always good - that glittery tinsel on your tree is actually a serious threat. It’s in a cat’s nature to want to play with anything string-like like the tinsel that you use to decorate your tree. They often swallow it and that can pose a threat to the intestines. This can lead to a condition called linear foreign body, where the intestine will bunch up around that tinsel and it may require emergency surgery to remove. In some cases, too much of the intestine can be damaged and it can be a life-threatening situation.
We recommend skipping the tinsel altogether, and anything else including or acting like string, unless you are hanging them out of reach for your furry friend. Remember, cats love to climb and can jump high, especially if garland or lights attract them. Most holiday hazards may seem like common sense, however it is always best to consider the worst case scenario. When you are putting your decorations up, the best thing is to think if, and how, your pet can get access and potentially endanger themselves. If your pet can access it and it can cause possible physical harm or is toxic to them, you probably want to keep that decoration in the storage box.
In addition, any decorations that can break and shatter should be secured soundly and placed toward the top of the tree—or skipped altogether, altogether—this will allow cats and Christmas trees to coexist. Or as mentioned above, simply set up the tree and gifts in a room that can be closed off from playful paws.
Holiday plants to avoid
Toxic houseplants are more common in cats than in dogs since cats like to nibble and chew on leaves and flowers. However, keep in mind that puppies, especially when teething, will chew on plants also. Toxicity signs are typically dose dependent and if mild, only cause mild gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhoea. However, in moderate or severe cases, seizures, respiratory or cardiac depression, or sudden death can occur.
- Holly: is a popular festive decoration that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, lethargy and head shaking.
- Lilies: and their many varieties like Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and Casa Blanca are very toxic to cats; they can cause kidney failure with just one lick of a leaf, stem or flower.
- Poinsettias: can irritate the mouth and stomach, causing vomiting and skin irritation.
- Mistletoe: can cause vomiting, diarrhea, walking drunk, collapse or abnormal heart sounds; the berries are especially toxic.
- Amaryllis (Belladonna): can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, a drop in blood pressure and respiratory depression.
- Hibiscus: can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Unfortunately, holidays can correspond with an increase in food-related pet poisoning. There are so many tempting treats that are a major danger for our furry friends. It’s natural to want to share the goods with our four-legged pals, but among the best holiday safety tips is not giving in to those big puppy eyes pleading for scraps.
A big culprit is chocolate, which contains caffeine, theobromine, and methylxanthines—a substance found in cacao seeds. So something as simple as setting out the brownie mix becomes increasingly risky if you have a dog around. Dog playpens and crates can keep your pup safely out of the kitchen. And if Cooper has already gone and gotten into that box of assorted truffles, it’s a good idea to have the nearest emergency veterinary hospital number stored in your phone to call for help.
Other items you’ll find on the holiday table and may not immediately consider a threat include grapes, raisins, onions and garlic (or foods which include onion or garlic powder). These fruits and vegetables can lead to severe stomach upset and kidney failure. And while it might be appropriate to put a cup of milk out for Santa, your pets are bound to get thier paws on it, so it’s best to avoid it. Though milk-based products are not necessarily toxic, they can cause diarrhea in cats and dogs, as pets can be lactose intolerant just like humans
Top tip: Grab a bottle of K9 Natural or Feline Natural Lactose-free Milk that is specifically formulated for pets. That way your furry pets can help themselves on Christmas eve and it'll look like Santa Paws definitiely visited.
Most pet parents want to get their furry pal in on the gift-giving fun. You may hang stockings embroidered with their name and leave boxes wrapped in paw-print paper under the tree. Here are some helpful tips when shopping:
- Get the right size toy. When planning a holiday purchase for your pet, make sure that you do not buy any toys that are not suited to your pet. Some toys contain pieces such as bells, strings or googly eyes that are small enough for them to swallow, and that could lead to an emergency vet trip. If you are buying toys for your dogs, ensure you get the right toy for their size - small, medium, large, or giant.
- Throw ‘em a bone—but only if you’re watching! Keep an eye on pets after unboxing their gifts (and your gifts too!). Any playtime with new toys should be supervised and fit for purpose. Also keep an eye out for any large chew toys or treats that get progressively smaller, like deer antlers or dental chews. Every dog is different, and even though the chew is meant for chewing, it does not mean that your dog will only chew and bite off small soft pieces. Anything small enough for them to swallow (including your children's toys), they will, and this can become a big problem if it gets caught in their throat or stomach.
- Opt for pet-specific treats. Including you pet in festivities by treating them too is great, but as mentioned above - check what you let them lick off your plate! Better yet, have on hand pet-specific treats and their own bowl so they can join in the festive feast. It also helps to make sure the treat is the right one for your pet such as dog chews that match you dog's size.
Here's a few paw-some gifts for your furry friend:
- For dogs, we recommend a puzzle toy that you can stuff like the ones from KONG, Outward Hound or West Paw. For the stuffing, we recommend KONG Stuff'n Paste, Mutt Butter Peanut Butter Cookies, or Awesome Pawsome Peanut Butter & Cranberry Treats.
- For cats, we recommend the KONG Wobbler, Trixie Activity Snack Ball, or AIKIOU Mouse Treat Toy. And for the stuffing, the classic Temptations, PetBakery Beef & Fish Treat Topper, or Vitakraft Milky Melody Cheese.
In conclusion, remember that the holidays were created by people. While your pet will be psyched about receiving any out-of-the-ordinary treatment, they aren’t expecting it. If it is not part of their normal diet or has caused stomach issues in the past, it’s not a good idea now just because it’s a special feast for you. These holiday safety tips will keep your pet safe and your holidays jolly by separating cats and Christmas trees and dogs and garlic mash.