PET SAFETY FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Hello everyone and welcome back to another WELLNESS WEDNESDAY. It’s December once again and we are in-the-midst of the Holiday Season. Baking, shopping, dining and decorating are in full swing. So, I always like to take a moment to remind us all that the things which bring joy and comfort to our families and friends may be harmful for our pets. After all, our four-legged friends can’t really look after themselves. And, pretty items that shine or tempting foods that smell wonderful may not be the best thing for them.
Our pets are such an important part of our lives. Studies have shown their presence creates balance, harmony and peace of mind. They help ease depression, lower blood pressure and boost our immune system. Pets are our allies when fighting disease and illness showering us with unconditional love. I know. I’ve had two beloved Labrador Retrievers — Lady helped me through my first cancer — and Angel helped me through my second and third. So, here are just a few tips to make sure our loyal pets stay safe and enjoy a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season with their loving families.
- Pets often drink water that collects under ornamental plants or the seasonal Christmas tree. So, don’t use additives in the water. Additives may help preserve your holiday plants, but they may harm your pet. And, always make sure the water is replaced regularly.
- Tape electrical cords used for lighting to the floor or wall. Dangling or loose wires are a temptation for cats and dogs – and of course, these are the last things your pet should be chewing on.
- If shiny ornaments are a staple in your holiday decorating, place them high on the window, door or Christmas tree. Ornaments placed lower should be sturdy and shatterproof.
- Scented oils, candles and potpourri are great ways to make your home feel welcome and smell wonderful. But, the aroma is attractive to pets as well. And, these products often contain ingredients that may prove harmful if swallowed or dangerous if spilled.
- Who doesn’t love a snow globe? These beautiful decorations are nostalgic and possess the power to transport us to another place and time. But, they may contain ethylene glycol – or as it’s more often referred to – antifreeze. This is a highly poisonous substance with a sweet smell and taste that must be kept away from all pets.
- Let’s start with chocolate. We love it! Our pets may think they love it. But, the theobromine and caffeine in chocolate is toxic to both cats and dogs. Typically, the darker the chocolate, the greater the level of toxicity. If ingested, our pets may experience diarrhea, vomiting or seizures.
- It may seem harmless to share a peanut or two with a curious cat or a begging dog. But, nuts are rich in fat, which can lead to pancreatitis. Almonds, pistachios, walnuts and macadamia nuts can prove toxic to pets and result in neurological damage.
- Grapes and raisins are plentiful on holiday tables. But, both can cause kidney failure in dogs. And, raisins can prove fatal for both cats and dogs.
- Fat trimmings also are common in every kitchen during the holiday feasting. But, cats and dogs alike have difficulty digesting fat. Fat trimmings, including turkey and chicken skin, can cause pancreatitis in our four-legged friends and should be safely discarded.
- Onions and garlic are both on our “naughty” list. Both contain thiosulphate, which can cause red blood cells to rupture in cats and dogs leading to hemolytic anemia. This is well documented in onions. Garlic remains a bit questionable, however, because some sources believe that small amounts offer some health benefits. What to do? Well, I always say, “When in doubt, leave it out.”
- We all know what too much alcohol can do to us! But, alcohol is much more toxic to pets than to people. And, remember many holiday drinks have lots of fruit, spices and other great smelling things in them that pets may find hard to resist. So, don’t leave drinks sitting on the coffee table where inquisitive feline and canine noses can find them.
- Perhaps the most common and recognizable of the holiday plants – poinsettias. Found in white, pink and flaming red colors, this plant is not exactly poisonous to pets — but the leaves contain a sap that is irritating to the tissues of the mouth and esophagus. The sap also can cause vomiting and nausea. If a large amount of poinsettia leaves were to be ingested, poisoning might result. But, this is highly unlikely as the sap has an unpleasant taste and an irritating quality to it.
- Holly. Found everywhere this time of year, holly leaves and berries contain chemicals such as ilicin, saponins and methylxanthines. Toxic to both cats and dogs these chemicals can cause diarrhea, vomiting and even depression.
- Holiday flowers like lilies and amaryllis are hard to beat for beauty. But, looks can be deceiving and both are highly toxic to pets. Lilies, in particular, can have a severe impact on a cat’s intestinal tract. And amaryllis, which contains lycorine can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain in cats and dogs.
- Another holiday favorite, mistletoe, contains multiple substances, including toxalbumin and pharatoxin viscumin that also are toxic to cats and dogs. If ingested by your pet, mistletoe can cause severe intestinal upset, a severe drop in blood pressure and respiratory problems. So, if you do have this plant in the house, just make sure to hang it high where it can be safely used for its intended purpose.
- Finally, the simple pine needle. The oils found in fir trees can produce oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. So, be sure to clean around your tree, garlands and wreaths regularly and sweep up needles as they fall to the floor.
Well, there we have it. A list of some of the most common holiday hazards our pets face during the season. So, as you take time to make your holiday home beautiful, warm and cozy please take care to keep your pets safe. Supply your cat or dog with lots of appropriate chew toys and pet treats throughout the holidays. Take them for walks to use up that extra energy. And, provide them with a quiet “time out” place of their own where they can rest and calm down when needed.
In this way, every Fluffy and Fido this holiday can enjoy family festivities in a safe and healthy environment!
Thanks for joining me everyone. I wish you all a WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON filled with PEACE, LOVE and JOY! Until next time, stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .