Holiday Decor and Pet Safety: Tinsel, Wires, Ribbons and Bows (and more!)

With beautifully decorated trees, ornaments, candles, plants, presents and delicious treats, Christmas can be a magical time.  But nothing ruins that magical time more than an emergency trip to the veterinarian.  The good news is that by taking a few precautions, you can avoid a Christmas Catastrophe or a Doggie Decoration Dilemma.

Here are a few pet care tips that will help keep you, your pet and your home merry and bright this Christmas season:

- Your Christmas Tree: Your Christmas tree should only fall once – and that’s after you cut it down at the Christmas tree farm.  After that you’ll want it to remain upright throughout the holidays.  If your cat just can’t resist climbing your tree, you’ll want to consider placing it in a corner and securely anchoring it to keep it stable and prevent injury to your pet from a falling tree.  Oh yeah…you know that Christmas tree water your dog just loves to drink?  That water may contain fertilizers that could upset his stomach.  And if the water becomes stagnant, it could breed bacteria which could cause nausea and diarrhea.  All good reasons for keeping your pet away from the tree water.

- Tree Decorations: Cats love to bat at and play with shiny, movable objects.  If, in spite of your best efforts, you cannot keep your cat from climbing the tree you should forego the use of tinsel on your tree.  If tinsel is ingested it can cause major digestive tract issues which could ultimately lead to surgery.  For those of you with dogs, keep watch for tinsel that may have fallen off of the tree that could possibly be ingested by your dog.  If your cat is not a climber, consider moving your decorations further up the tree to keep them out of reach.  

- Tree Lights: If your cat or dog is prone to chewing, consider placing your lights in such a way as they cannot be reached.  Electrical light cords are not only a shock hazard but they are also a fire hazard.  Seeing the hair on a cat stand straight up or a tree go up in flames in a movie might be funny but in real life it can lead to a tragedy.

- Gifts and Gift Wrapping: Ribbons, strings and gift wrap all have the potential to cause intestinal blockage if ingested.   Your best rule of thumb is to keep your pets away when you are wrapping presents and store your supplies in an area where your pets can’t get to them.

- Plants: Holly and mistletoe are both poisonous to dogs and cats and poinsettias can cause nausea and vomiting if ingested.  If you use these plants as holiday decorations, take care to keep them out of your pet’s reach.

- Candles: If you use candles with open flames, be sure to keep them safely away from curious paws and wagging tails.  And NEVER leave a burning candle unattended!

- While Your Away: Whenever you leave your house, unplug all electric lights and any other decorations that might use electricity to keep your curious, chewy pets safe from electrical shock and potential fire.

One more thing – be sure you have your veterinarian’s contact information close at hand should you need it.  You should also have the contact information for your nearest emergency veterinary practice in case you need veterinary service after hours.

We hope you and your pet have a happy and safe holiday!!