Tinsel, treats and trees, oh my! These may sound like your favorite parts of the holiday season, but for our furry friends, festive décor and desserts can end in an emergency vet trip. No loving pet parent wants to accidentally put their fur baby in the hospital, nor do they want to take time away from the festivities.
As the holidays approach, keep your eyes peeled for these common dangers in the home.
Pet hazards during the holidays
The holidays present hazards your pet doesn’t come across any other time of year. Festive décor like tinsel, string lights and mistletoe can quickly become fatal for our four-legged companions. Here’s why pet parents should keep a watchful eye on their fur babies this holiday season.
- String lights: The colorful, twinkling lights strung around your home are sure to catch a kitty’s attention! What many pet parents don’t realize is this common holiday decoration can electrocute fur babies if they chew on the cord. Heaps of tangled cords have also been known to ensnare playful cats, which can lead to injuries and strangle the cat’s neck.
- Desserts: Holiday parties fill tables with platters of cookies, pastries and sugar-free goodies. Determined pets find a way to jump onto the counter and snatch a dessert, many of which are poisonous to cats and dogs. The smallest amount of chocolate can land a pup in the hospital, and xylitol (an alternative to sugar) is extremely deadly, as well. Think twice before leaving a bowl of candy on the coffee table!
- Metal hooks: Many people use metal hooks to hang ornaments on their Christmas trees. Cats will be tempted to knock shiny, bobbing ornaments off the tree and bat them around. They could potentially swallow the metal hooks, which can puncture the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines. Metal hooks can even create intestinal blockages that require emergency surgery to remove.
- Christmas trees: When pets pull off ornaments, they run the risk of getting squished beneath a toppled Christmas tree. Also, real trees are often sprayed with chemical preservatives to keep them looking healthy all season long. These preservatives can seep into the tree’s water stand, which provides unsuspecting pets with a poisonous drink.
- Fragile ornaments: Many ornaments are made of glass or ceramic. If the Christmas tree is surrounded by hardwood floors, chances are, they’ll shatter if a mischievous pet pulls them off the branches! The floors might become littered with broken shards that can cut paw pads and obstruct digestive tracts.
How to keep pets away from hazards
Just because you own a cat or dog doesn’t mean you have to give up holiday traditions! Pet parents can turn holiday perils into pet-friendly alternatives by following these safety tips.
- Put cords in a box: Minimize the risk of injury and electrocution by containing long, dangly wires in a cord-management box. There are durable plastic boxes on the market designed to hide excessive cords that end up piled on the floor.
- Place desserts on high counters: Deter hungry pups by arranging goodies on a countertop that’s too high to reach. Keep plates near the center, so large breeds can’t nab a cookie from the edge of the counter. If your cat is skittish around strangers, put the dessert table in a high-traffic area of the home like the kitchen or living room.
- Hang ornaments with string loops: Replace the metal hooks on your Christmas ornaments with loops of string. String is less likely to come off an ornament and won’t cause injury if it ends up in your cat’s mouth. If you can’t remove a metal hook from its ornament, place the ornament high on your tree and secure it tightly to a branch.
- Pet-proof your Christmas tree: To prevent the Christmas tree from falling on your pet, secure its trunk inside a durable tree stand. Make sure the stand is filled with enough water so the tree becomes bottom heavy. Place a cover on the water basin so your pets aren’t tempted to drink from it.
- Switch to plastic ornaments: Christmas trees look just as pretty with plastic ornaments instead of glass! Replace delicate baubles with ones that won’t break if and when they hit the floor. However, your family might have sentimental ornaments made from ceramic or glass that you want to keep. Hang these toward the top of the Christmas tree to protect the ornaments and your pets.
Keeping your pets safe may require some compromise. Pet parents should be willing to exclude any décor that’s dangerous no matter what you do (like tinsel). Any alterations you have to make are well worth it to keep your furry family members safe!