Keep your pets safe this holiday season

  • Published
  • By Tracy Meeks
  • 35th Services Squadron
The holiday season can be a joyous time; however, it can also be a dangerous time for pets. These tips will help you protect the family's furry or feathered friends.

Toxic plants (lilies, mistletoe and poinsettia):
Many holiday bouquets include lilies which can cause kidney failure in cats if eaten. Mistletoe can cause severe heart problems, while holly and poinsettias tend to cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Pine needles can scratch or become lodged inside your pet's mouth or intestines.

Christmas trees:
Pets can climb on and topple Christmas trees. Christmas tree water can be contaminated with dangerous fertilizers, bacteria, or mold. For those who put an aspirin in the water as preservative, remember that aspirin is extremely poisonous to cats.

Christmas decorations:
Angel hair or spun glass can cause irritation of the eyes, skin and intestines. Artificial snow can be poisonous if inhaled or sprayed directly into an animal's mouth. Favorite ornaments should be hung out of reach on the Christmas tree since little paws will want to play with bright and colorful ornaments. Tinsel can cause choking or intestinal blockage. Gift ribbons and bows should be kept out of sight and reach to prevent chewing and swallowing. Do not tie ribbons or tags around a pet's neck or tail. Metal ornament hooks should be replaced with tightly knotted fabric or lightweight twine and kept out of reach.

Candles and lights:
Pets are attracted to flickering bright lights. Use caution with menorah, candles and liquid potpourri pots as they can cause burns, spillage of wax and accidental fires. Bubbling holiday lights can kill an animal, depending on the amount of fluid (methylene chloride) inhaled or ingested.

Delicious feasts:
Keep pets on their regular diet and do not give them "special treats." Greasy, spicy and fatty foods can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. In particular, don't feed your pet bones, especially poultry bones. Poultry bones splinter easily and can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract. Place unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot reach them. If ingested, your animal could become very sick and possibly comatose.

Fragrant aromas from the kitchen will no doubt attract curious pets. Pets can easily tip hot containers (such as those with turkey or ham drippings) causing severe scalding and burns to themselves or others. Be careful not to trip over your best friend while moving about in the kitchen. Keep your kitchen garbage cans secured to protect against nighttime garbage raids.

Holiday sweets (chocolate and hard candy):
Depending on the amount eaten, chocolate (bakers, semi-sweet, milk and dark) can be poisonous to many animals. Unsweetened baking chocolate contains almost seven times more toxins than milk chocolate. Vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity, increased thirst, urination and heart rate can be seen with the ingestion of as little as ΒΌ an ounce of baking chocolate by a 10-pound dog.

New Year's fireworks:
Keep pets indoors during firework displays as the noise and commotion can frighten them. Also, large gathering and camera flashes can cause anxiety and fear.

Please keep these tips in mind to maintain a safe environment for the family pets during the holidays.