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Holiday Pet Safety

Hi Friends – Tuki here from my perch at the Potter League. I’ve been listening to the staff here at the Potter League, and it seems like it’s going to be a really different holiday season this year. Even if you won’t be traveling or having a lot of company, you still need to remember to keep your pets safe during the holidays. Here are a few tips that can help: 

1. Christmas trees. If you have a Christmas tree and a pet, remember that this is something new to them and they will want to investigate. People are not the only ones who are a bit bored with all this quarantining! Secure your tree to a wall or the ceiling so that curious pets won’t be able to knock it over. If you have a real tree, don’t let your pet drink the water. It may contain fertilizers that can cause an upset stomach. Also, avoid adding preservatives like aspirin or sugar to the water. 

2. Seasonal plants. Many seasonal plants can cause problems for your pet if eaten, or even if they just lick or nibble on the leaves. Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, amaryllis, and others can be dangerous or even poisonous for your pets.  And nobody wants a trip to the emergency vet during the holidays!  You can check the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) for a complete list of plants that are toxic for animals. 

3. Tinsel and other shiny objects. Tinsel can be especially tempting for cats who think it’s a bright new toy for just for them! Unfortunately, swallowing tinsel can cause an intestinal obstruction. Ornaments can cause injuries if broken and, also intestinal blockage if eaten. Ornaments made from food substances, such as dough should be out of reach, so your pet isn’t tempted to think of them as a snack! 

4. Potpourri and essential oils. While we all love to have our houses smelling festive during the holidays, essential oil diffusers and potpourri (which contains essential oils) can injure your pets’ mouth, eyes and skin if they come into contact with the oil. Solid potpourris can be toxic if ingested. 

5. Lighting up the town. Those seasonal lights are so warm and inviting, especially when the days are so short! If you use candles, never leave lit candles unattended. Besides being a danger for your pet, they are a fire hazard if knocked over or they come into contact with flammable materials like wrapping paper or tinsel (which you probably won’t have if you read number 3!). Electric light cords should be secured to prevent your pet from chewing on them which can cause an electric shock. Batteries can cause burns to the mouth, throat and skin if punctured. 

6. Food and beverages. Even if you aren’t hosting a big gathering this year, you and your family are likely looking forward to some of your favorite seasonal treats, but your pet shouldn’t be! Be sure to keep an eye on any food put on counters and tables – especially if you have counter surfers or jumpers (you know who you are!). This is especially true during dessert, because as you know, foods containing chocolate and the sweetener xylitol are toxic to pets. If you are planning to enjoy cocktails during your celebration, keep your unattended drinks where your pet can’t reach them. Alcohol is toxic to pets and can cause coma, respiratory failure, and death. After the feast, clean up any leftovers and secure the trash where your pet can’t get at it. Turkey and chicken bones can cause choking and even the packaging that smells like dinner can be eaten by a curious pet and cause illness. And be sure you keep those leftovers just for you and your family. There are other ways for your pet to enjoy the holidays that don’t require a visit to the vet!

7. Ringing in the New Year. I’m sure that most of you will be happy to put 2020 behind you! If you plan a celebration to welcome the new year, remember that some of those festivities can be upsetting or dangerous for your furry family member. Confetti, if swallowed, can cause nausea and vomiting or get lodged in the intestine. Noise makers can be upsetting to pets who are already anxious. If you live in an area where fireworks are popular, be sure to have a safe, secure space for your pet to go when the celebrating starts.  

You may be thinking, ‘But, I want my pet to enjoy the holidays too!’ Well, they can. Stuff your pet’s stocking with safe treats like new versions of their favorite toys. For your dog, Kong® toys stuffed with healthy snacks/ treats and any chewy treats that are safely digestible are always a hit. For your cats, a stuffed catnip toy, favorite cat treats or a ‘cat dancer’ toy is likely to be appreciated.  

Hope you all have a happy and healthy holiday season! 

‘Till next year, your friend Tuki