The Christmas & New Year festivities are on their way, and sadly, the celebrations can sometimes pose safety problems for pets. Apart from the overexcitement and confusion caused by too many guests, there are physical problems too. Whilst not wishing to dampen anyone’s spirits, here are a few things to consider to allow your pet to have a good time too.
The Tree – The natural smell of a Christmas tree attracts pets. But remember that needles (even artificial ones) are indigestible. So, keep your pet away from the tree (using a baby gate in the doorway or low lattice fencing around the tree itself) and, since cats like to climb, secure it so he can’t knock it over. Artificial trees pose their own hazards. Small pieces of plastic or aluminum can break off and be swallowed, causing intestinal blockage or irritation to the mouth. Don’t use preservatives in the stand water. They can be toxic if consumed by a thirsty pet so cover the top of the stand with a tree skirt so your pet can’t get to it.
The decorations – Lights can get very hot – remove them from the lower branches of the tree so they won’t burn a curious cat. Tinsel is dangerous and its sharp edges can cause cuts in the mouth. If a pet swallows it, it can block intestines, causing decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, listlessness and weight loss. Treatment usually involves surgery.
Don’t use edible ornaments or fragile, easily breakable glass decorations to trim the tree. Your pet may knock over the tree trying to get to them and your cat may decide they’re toys and cut himself trying to play with them. Don’t use angel hair. It’s made of spun glass and can cause irritation on contact. Make sure electrical cords are out of reach, taped firmly to walls or floors. Chewing on wires may cause burns which can be fatal. Don’t use wire ornament hooks that can easily snag an ear or a tail, or, if swallowed, can lodge in the throat or intestines. Instead, fashion loops of yarn, ribbons or twine. And be careful not to leave any of that lying around for a curious pet to chew on.
The Gifts – Check out the “toys” your pet or kids receive as gifts. A pet can swallow small parts; plastic items can be easily broken and swallowed, too
The wrappings – this can be dangerous to a pet’s health: String and ribbon can cause obstruction of the small bowel if swallowed. Cats, especially, love to eat the string used to tie up the turkey as it cooks. Before throwing away large boxes or cartons, check the insides to make sure a kitten hasn’t curled up inside.
The food & drink – Alcohol and chocolate are toxic – keep drinks and sweets out of a pet’s reach. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, and even a single ounce of pure chocolate can be lethal to a small cat or dog. Dark and unsweetened baking chocolate are most dangerous. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, hyperactivity and seizures.
Turkey bones left in an accessible place are almost irresistible to pets, but they can lodge in an animal’s throat or block the intestinal tract. Remove leftovers from the table and don’t leave rubbish where animals can get to it.
Indoor Hazards – Certain plants are a menace to cats: Poinsettias irritate the stomach and eyes, while berries of the Jerusalem cherry ,holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, chrysanthemum, rhododendron and winter broom as well as rose can all cause problems to pets that ingest them.
Note: Liquid potpourri can cause terrible burns in an animal’s mouth should it be ingested. Space heaters, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces can cause burns if animals get too close.
Candles are a great attraction for pets, but don’t leave them alone in a room with a menorah or candelabra blazing-the swish of a tail can be disastrous.
Outdoor Hazards – Even a small amount of antifreeze is extremely toxic. It has a sweet taste that attracts animals, but it can cause permanent kidney damage or death. The lethal dose is one teaspoon per two pounds of body weight. Don’t let animals drink from puddles, and make sure to clean paws when a pet comes in from the outdoors. Rock salt can irritate a pet’s footpads. Make sure you rinse and dry them carefully. To soften them and prevent cracking, smear them with a small amount of petroleum jelly.
The guests – ensure that your pet has a safe, quiet place to hide away from guests if they need to. Do not force pets to meet people if they don’t want to, especially children. Never leave your pet unattended with children or other visiting pets.
Make sure that doors are kept closed and guests asked to kindly close doors behind them . In all of the melee a pet can easily escape without being noticed , so if your pet is likely to be unnerved by visitors you could lock them in a comfortable crate or spare room with a warm blanket, some food and water and some toys to keep them safe for a while.
Finally, remember that your pet is used to routine and this can go to pot at this time of year. Keep in mind that routine is important to them and try to stick to regular habits in regard to feeding, walking and their bedtimes – they will love you for it and it will ensure that everyone has a great time!
Have a Woofy Christmas from the team at Doggy Days.