Christmas Pet Safety
Dr. Christina Frick, D.V.M.
Pet owners are excited during this joyous season but animals need to be protected from the hazards of the holidays. There are dangers inside and outside of the house.
Remember pets that don't fit can't be returned. Giving a pet as a holiday gift takes planning. Does the person really want the pet and all the responsibilities. Holiday festivities do not allow the proper time to spend with a new pet. It is advised to wait a week or two after the Holidays, so the pet doesn't get injured in all the activity.
Christmas trees and pets are a recipe for disaster! Place breakable ornaments above paw level. Bubbling Lights have a methylene chloride liquid that can be toxic. Pets can be shocked, burned and even electrocuted if they chew on electrical cords. Make sure cords are out of chewing reach and covered. Cats can climb trees and your tree could fall. Animals can eat metal hooks, tinsel (icicles), angel hair (spun glass), string, which cause severe intestinal problems or blockage. Do not put ribbons or yarn around your pet's neck. Gift wrap can be dangerous if eaten by your pet. Keep rubber bands, staples, string, ribbon, plastic, foam packaging and foil out of reach. Don't place presents containing candy under the tree if a pet is inside. Many other gifts can also be hazardous to your pet, use precautions to avoid ingestion.
Many holiday plants can be toxic to your pets causing gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system or cardiac problems- or even death. Some toxic plants include Poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, ivy, and Christmas greens.
Flames or dripping wax can burn pets or singe their whiskers- and fire hazard if they knock over a burning candle.
Outside hazards include keeping anti-freeze out of pet's reach. Some animal like the sweet taste of anti-freeze, but even the smallest amounts can harm or kill your pet. Clean up spills and keep containers closed tightly. Snow removal salts or snow melt can be toxic if ingested. Remove salt from your pet's paws immediately. Read labels and take necessary precautions. Cats can climb onto vehicle engines for warmth. Before starting your vehicle, knock on the hood and honk the horn for your own cat or even the neighbor's cat.
In our area it is recommended that dogs be kept on year round Heartworm Preventative. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquito bites and can be fatal. After having your dog tested for heartworms by your vet, heartworm preventative should be started.
Provide proper shelter for you pet. Indoor pet's area should be in a warm, draft-free area. Outdoor animals should have a warm insulated pet house or shelter with a "door" to keep out winter winds. If your pet is in a pen, block the wind with straw bale or canvas. Remove ice and snow from your pet's paws and coat to prevent frostbite. Frostbitten skin may turn reddish, white or gray, and may be scaly or sloughing. Thaw out frostbitten areas slowly and contact your veterinarian.
Staying warm requires extra calories, so feed your pet accordingly when the temperature drops. Always have fresh, clean water available for your pet. If your pet is outdoors, be sure to check their water frequently since it may freeze.
Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season.