Well where is this year going? Seems like only yesterday we were planting flowers and getting out the lawn mower. Now we’re anticipating the arrival of the dreaded white flakes in the sky! Soon we will be gearing up for another holiday season – at the Bartley household we can’t wait to celebrate our son’s first Christmas! But as always there are things to do to pet proof our houses to make sure that everyone enjoys the season safely.
The holidays come with delectable treats, many of which are left out where certain dogs and cats can potentially access them. There are a few of these that potentially harmful and need to be kept away from our furry family members.
Chocolate – the chemical theobromide in chocolate causes toxicity in dogs and cats (luckily white chocolate is safe – just don’t over do it)
Macadamia nuts – there are usually a few of these in mixed nuts and are also toxic
Raisins - can cause severe kidney damage, so no butter tarts for Fido or Fluffy (now you have an excuse to get rid of Aunt Martha’s fruitcake if you don’t like it!)
Turkey bones – really any cooked poultry bones are dangerously sharp and can poke holes in a dogs or cats digestive tract
Sugar free candy – an artifical sweetener called xylitol that is often found in sugar free gum and candy can cause serious liver issues
Alcohol - really isn’t good for dogs or cats so keep the drinks out of their reach (if you are nursing a holiday hangover just make sure to keep the ibuprofen and tylenol away from your pets as you would during the year)
Besides the ones listed above, much of our holiday fare is quite rich – any of this given in excess to a dog or cat can cause stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea or even a severe illness called pancreatitis. So keep tidbits small – no matter what your dog or cats tells you he/she does not need 6 pieces of ham!!!
Poinsetta - toxic to cats and dogs
Holly - most of the time we’re not getting the real stuff but if you do make sure your pets don’t have access to it
Lilies - Not just available for Easter – a lot of holiday bouquets have lilies in them – try to keep them out of reach
Tinsel - this pretty tree decoration is often irresistible to cats – but it does not travel well through the gut and often becomes stuck, requiring emergency surgery to remove (the metallic garlands are also risky)
Glass balls – they look an awful lot like a tennis ball to most dogs – we’ve had several cases of dogs trying to pick up a glass ball and having it shatter in their mouth or even getting knocked off the tree and spreading the broken glass on the floor to be stepped on
Electric tree lights – Christmas trees just aren’t the same without them! But if your cat of dog thinks it’s time to play tug of war with a string of lights, it’s time to move them up and out of the way. For dogs often that means not having the lights on the lower branches of the tree where your dog can reach them. For cats it often means finding some way of keeping them out of the tree itself – baby gates can be extremely helpful for this
Candles - whether it’s your Chanukah menorah or a red Santa candle, never leave your pets unsupervised around an open flame
Overall just be sure that any long strings or ribbons are kept away from your cats and dogs – swallowing these can be harmful.
Beyond the more serious dangers mentioned above, in general anticipate that the many guests, noisy parties and lack of regular schedule can be stressful for your pet. Try to monitor their behavior and if they are acting abnormally in any way you can contact us for a quick holiday checkup. Following these guidelines will ensure that everyone has a safe and happy holiday celebration. So from our family to yours, enjoy the holidays and all the best in 2015.