The prevention of an illness or injury is definitely the gift that keeps on giving, but during the holidays, this can be a major feat. Amidst a bursting social calendar, shopping sprees and cookie exchanges, a pet owner’s usual vigilance and presence might understandably be at a deficit. Don’t worry! Northpark Animal Hospital has some safety tips you can implement to help your pet remain safe and healthy throughout the holidays in our Christmas pet safety guide.

The Greens

Cats and dogs always find ways to inspect Christmas trees brought into the home. While artificial trees may reduce injuries to pets, they can still bring plenty of risks. To be sure, the following items top the list of Christmas pet safety precautions around the tree.

  • Tinsel is responsible for dangerous gastrointestinal obstructions that commonly result in the need for advanced diagnostics and veterinary surgery.
  • Breakable ornaments can cause injury if eaten or walked on.
  • Edible garlands are enticing, but like tinsel, they’re responsible for serious blockages.
  • Tree stands with standing water may also be full of bacteria, molds, and even chemicals from the tree. Inhibit drinking by covering the stand with foil or a tree skirt.
  • Keep potted holiday plants like poinsettia, lilies, amaryllis, holly, and mistletoe off the floor and other surfaces your pet can reach. While poinsettias have traditionally been thought to pose the most danger to your pet, it’s actually true that the poinsettia is less toxic to pets than many other holiday plants.

All The Pretty Lights

Light strings and extension cords are enticing to puppies and to cats of all ages, who see the introduction of a new dangling cord as an attractive play toy.

  • Look for ways to run cords away from the floor or tape them to the floor so they aren’t dangling.
  • Consider purchasing chewsafe cord protectors and using lower voltage LED light strings, which are not only lower voltage, but less prone to breakage.
  • If your dog or cat does get shocked with an electrical cord, do not touch your pet until the current has been disconnected.  Instead, try to safely unplug the electrical cord using something that doesn’t conduct electricity.
  • If your pet receives an electrical shock after biting an electrical cord, it may cause serious burns inside the mouth. Fluid may build up in the lungs. Seek medical treatment immediately.

Other Decor Dangers

Open flame candles are better off contained within a hurricane glass or enclosed lantern. House fires and burnt whiskers are obvious threats to Christmas pet safety, but lesser known threats include snow globes that contain antifreeze and liquid potpourri that can cause chemical burns, respiratory distress, and fever.

Beware These Foods

It’s always a great idea to consult this complete list of toxic foods and plants. Be sure to prohibit your pet’s access to the following, remembering that even chocolates wrapped under the tree pose a hazard, since dogs have such a keen sense of smell and will locate them in no time at all.

  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Xylitol
  • Grapes/raisins
  • Raw yeasted dough
  • Rich, fatty meat
  • Bones

Store any leftovers securely and make sure that garbage is taken out so your pet isn’t tempted. Try not to change your pet’s diet during the holidays.

Christmas Pet Safety

Other Christmas pet safety risks include escape, stress, anxiety, and unintentional exposure to items like a houseguest’s medication. Think about the potential pet toxins your guests may unwittingly bring into your house.via medications, a pack of gum or chocolates, Make a plan for storage of these items in high places or behind locked doors. Advise your guests of rules concerning your pets. Point out the need to keep gates and exterior doors closed, and ask guests to keep their bedroom doors closed to prevent pets from wandering in and discovering enticing smells and tastes in guests’ purses, coat pockets or suitcases.

Pet anxiety is very common during the holidays. Be sure to provide a safe, calm place for your pet to hang out that’s away from all the noise and chaos. Crate training has significant benefits that outlast the holiday season.Your pet will appreciate having a safe room, a place to rest and de-stress to avoid constant overstimulation from houseguests and their excited children. Know your pet’s stress signals and intervene before things get out of hand. Keep in mind that the holidays is not the time to add to or change your pet’s diet. Try to maintain your pet’s routine as much possible, create opportunities for enrichment and exercise, and ensure tags and microchips are up-to-date.

If our veterinarians or staff can assist you further regarding Christmas pet safety, please let us know.