Montclair veterinarian George Cameron warns that the holidays have some inherent risks for pets, and over the years he has seen the gamut of injuries. He’s treated, and sometimes operated on, cats who have eaten tinsel. Christmas trees have toppled over onto some patients, and others have cut their paws on broken ornaments. Dr. Cameron said guests at Christmas parties have unwittingly released indoor cats, or let dogs escape.
He has treated dogs and cats with diarrhea and vomiting from eating turkey skin or turkey fat. Harried hosts sometimes leave chocolate accessible to pets, which can become seriously ill if they eat it. He warned that guests should never feed raisins to a pet — they are highly toxic.
So how can you keep pets safe this holiday? Here are some tips:
Make sure to securely anchor your Christmas tree. If it tips over, the tree water may spill, and pose a danger to pets who might drink it. The water may contain fertilizers and bacteria. Also, refrain from adding tree preservatives, aspirin, or Tylenol to tree water.
Try to place your tree away from furniture that cats can jump onto the tree from. Hang your most fragile ornaments on higher branches, away from probing paws and wagging tails.
The Humane Society of Hawaii suggests hanging citrus scented dryer sheets or air fresheners from low branches. Most cats dislike the smell of oranges and lemons.
Electric lights pose a hazard for pets who like to chew. Remember to unplug any lights before leaving home.
Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, as well as many lilies, are poisonous to pets.
If pets won’t leave the tree alone, it is probably best to confine them in a room with clean water and a comfortable place to sleep. Don’t forget to include a litter box for your cats.
Avoid decorating the tree with tinsel, which can be deadly, especially to cats, who are drawn to chew on it. Likewise, keep ribbons out of pets’ reach. If you have house guests, make sure that they know that dental floss and elastic bands can pose a serious danger to pets.
When entertaining, monitor the door so that pets don’t escape, or confine them. Be aware that unattended alcoholic beverages or chocolate are a serious risk to pets.
Be very careful with a lighted menorah or other candles. Pets can burn themselves or knock over the candles and start a fire. If you have a cat, and are going out or leaving the room, put the menorah on the stove or in the sink, where it is unlikely to start a fire if disturbed.
We at Baristanet wish you and your pets a happy, safe holiday season!
to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.