Holidays can be a time of pet hazards
December 16, 2003
The holidays are in full swing at your house and your roommates or family members are feeling festive. It’s important to pause for a moment, however, and think about your pet’s needs during this busy time, amidst the swirl of decorations, parties and holiday fare.
Take a moment to cruise through your home looking through a pet’s eyes – or stomach.
The holidays introduce a number of items into your home that your pet may mistake for a great toy or a tasty treat. The consequences may dampen holiday spirits for the entire household.
Puppies, who are especially likely to chew on anything they can find, warrant extra attention.
Many pet experts warn against giving animals as gifts for the holidays.
“There are a lot of Christmas puppies,” says High Country dog trainer, Don Drogsvold. “You get this animal and, all the sudden, you have to devote all this time to it, but Christmas is a busy time.
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“When I get a new animal, I like to time it so that I can devote a lot of attention to it during all that crucial brain development from six to 14 weeks,” he says.
According to veterinarian Gail Golab, who writes on pet care for the American Veterinary Medical Association Web site, rich holiday food scraps, chocolate and alcoholic beverages can be harmful or toxic to pets.
“Do not allow friends and relatives to give your pet special treats. It could ruin everyone’s holiday (including your veterinarian’s),” warns Golab.
Decorations and gift wrap also pose a threat.
“Christmas lights – don’t chew on those. That could be a shocking experience,” Drogsvold says.
“(Tinsel) can get ingested and cause some serious blockage. Sometimes animals don’t pass that long stringy stuff,” Drogsvold adds.
Golab recommends tacking or taping down electrical cords and discourages using bows or other gift wrap on your pet.
“If you want to decorate your pet, invest in a holiday collar. These last for many years, are more attractive and are a lot safer.” Golab says.
Golab compiled the following list of holiday items toxic to pets:
– Low toxicity: poinsettia leaves/stems; balsam/pine/cedar/fir; angel hair (spun glass); Christmas tree preservatives; snow sprays/snow flock; tree ornaments; super glue; Styrofoam; icicles (tinsel); and crayons/paints.
– Moderate toxicity: fireplace colors/salts; plastic model cement.
– Moderate to high toxicity: holly berries and leaves; bubbling lights (methylene chloride); snow scenes (may contain salmonella); aftershaves/perfumes/alcoholic beverages; and chocolate (dark is more toxic than milk).
– Highly toxic: mistletoe (especially berries); epoxy adhesives; and antifreeze.