Wednesday, December 12, 2012

During the Holidays Everything is a Toy

Pretend you are your pet this holiday season.  You see bright colored lights and shiny, dangling ornaments that look like something to have fun with.  You want to eat the scented candles and freshly baked goods that have those yummy odors.  Best of all, there is a tree inside, so there is no need to go out and play.

Pets are easily confused and most consider everything as some sort of toy or food.  While it can be a pleasure to watch any animal swat and play with various items, be aware of everything within reach and keep your beloved companions safe this holiday season.

 “O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! Much pleasure thou can'st give me…”   Pets often view a “real” Christmas tree as the perfect chew toy.  Dogs, especially puppies like to grab bottom branches and chew or pull on them.  However if pine needles are eaten, they can cause severe gastrointestinal problems.  Cats and kitties love to climb, and Christmas trees are the ultimate in cat trees.  Therefore, ensure the stand is solid, stable and weighted down, so when your cat climbs or your dog pulls on it the tree will not tip over causing possible injury to your pet or damage to your home.  For extra security, a ceiling hook can be installed and fishing line utilized to secure the top of the tree to the hook.
Christmas tree water can become stagnant, and become a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he drink it.  A tight-fitting tree skirt over the tree stand may help to prevent this.  In addition, do not place chemicals in your tree's water.  Your tree may stay fresher for a longer period, but it can prove to be deadly to pets.  

“Tinseltown, Where everything glitters, Tinseltown, All sparkle and shimmer…”   Cats especially love sparkling tinsel.  When it is swallowed tinsel can cause severe vomiting, dehydration and obstruction resulting in surgery.  Instead of tinsel, it would be best to use something like wide cloth ribbon to drape on the tree.  In addition, never hang edible treats on a Christmas tree.  They provide too much temptation.

Any ornaments placed on the bottom of the tree should be non-breakable and try to avoid using wire ornament hooks.  Remember, ornaments dangling from a tree are viewed as toys.  Dogs will most likely chew them and shards of breakable ornaments can severely damage your pet's mouth or intestines.

Christmas tree lights and electric window displays are very inviting to pets as well.  Keep wires and batteries out of paws and jaws’ reach.  A wire can provide a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to both the mouth and esophagus.  Make sure that all electrical connections and outlets are secured and concealed.  When hanging lights on the tree do not have any of the wires hanging lower than the branches.  Tape electrical cords to the walls or floors to guarantee that your pets will not chew on them.

You know not to feed your pets chocolate.  However, a resourceful pet will chomp on anything they think is tasty.  Therefore, keep pets away from unattended food, and be sure garbage pails are secured and covered.  Ribbon, if swallowed, can cause intestinal obstruction requiring surgery.  Therefore, after opening gifts, quickly dispose of all wrappings, ribbons, and bows that can be easily swallowed by curious cats and determined dogs.           

“Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly…” With so many Christmas plants that can cause harm to your pets the best practice, instead, is to use artificial plants made from silk or plastic.  Lilies, holly leaves and berries, poinsettias, amaryllis and mistletoe can be extremely hazardous to both cats and dogs.

Another holiday hazard is candles.  Not only can they cause burn injuries to pets, but also overturned candles can cause a fire in your home.  Never leave lighted candles and unattended pets in the same room. 

Accidents can still happen, no matter how hard we plan.  Therefore, keep your local veterinarian’s telephone number close.  In addition, the ASPCA Poison Control Center can be reached at (888)426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline is available at (800)213-6680.   

A few precautions during this festive season can assure that both you and your pets have a safe, enjoyable holiday.  Wishing you and ALL the members of your family a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, or Happy Holiday!


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