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Holiday Safety Tips

By December 17, 2012 Holidays

Be careful how you deck your halls! The holiday season is generally a time of family togetherness in which even our pets participate. One’s thoughts generally are far from thoughts of injury; however, one must be aware of some important seasonal hazards in order to insure a happy holiday season.


These are of special interest to playful cats and kittens who see these materials as toys (or prey) to be chased, pounced upon, chewed or swallowed. While chasing and pouncing pose no health threats, chewing and swallowing do, as these strings or “linear foreign bodies” can catch in the GI tract, leading to bunching of intestine as the body tries in vain to move the string or ribbon through. This is a life-threatening condition requiring surgery for correction. Supervise animals who play with string closely.

It is a good idea to avoid all decorations that may break into small pieces.

Evergreen needles that have fallen from trees and boughs should be picked up right away


These are also tempting to cats who like to play with string as well as to puppies who are teething and interested in chewing. If a pet bites through an electrical cord, it could result in a severe burn to the tongue, which causes the pet’s lung to fill with fluid, causing respiratory distress. This is also an emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention.


Pets may knock candles over or be burned by them. Candles, wood stoves and fireplaces are a hazard with pets so always use caution.


Safely secure your tree at the top and bottom.  All electrical cords and wires should be inaccessible to pets.  Do not use tree preservatives in the water.


Refrain from having toxic plants or ensure that they are inaccessible to pets.


Consuming this festive-looking plant can be irritating to the mouth and stomach of the dog or cat that chews on or eats it. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettia is not specifically toxic.


The fact that there are several types of mistletoe makes it difficult to predict the clinical signs of poisoning. Some mistletoe produce only stomach upset while others may lead to liver failure or seizuring. Consider mistletoe to be a hazardous substance and keep it inaccessible to pets and children.

Other plants to avoid: holly, ivy, Christmas rose, Christmas cactus, lily, star of Bethlehem, yew, Jerusalem cherry, hibiscus, Christmas green (e.g. pine, cedar)


Keep pets out of the kitchen during the hustle and bustle of the season. The last thing you want is for someone you love to get underfoot and get burned from spillage.


Many people do not realize that chocolate can be a poison. Unsweetened baking chocolate carries a much higher dose of the toxin “theobromine” than does milk chocolate, but even normal milk chocolate can be dangerous; a small dog sharing candy can wind up in big trouble. Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include hyperexcitability, nervousness, vomiting, and diarrhea and death.


We all like to include our pets in Holiday meals along with the rest of the family, but try to keep in mind that sudden rich diet changes are likely to upset a pet’s stomach. Vomiting and diarrhea are not uncommon. If leftovers are of an especially fatty nature, the pancreas may become inflamed and overloaded. This condition is serious and may require hospitalization.

Pets should not be given bones as they can splinter and lodge in the throat or intestines.


Guests during the holidays can create stress in your pet’s safe environment. Keep your pet in a quiet confined space while people are visiting. Do not leave pets unsupervised around children.

The holidays are a special and busy time that can result in new situations where pets can suffer. Ensure that your pets are protected and take the time to educate others about the hazards of the holidays.


The Thickson Road Pet Hospital wishes you and your family a safe and happy holiday season!


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