We’ve all seen the cat zapped by Christmas Lights in “Christmas: Vacation.” In the spirit of the season, California veterinarians remind pet owners to be extra cautious so the holidays don’t send their pooch or kitty to the animal hospital’s emergency room… or up in smoke. To ensure your pet’s holidays are safe and carefree, the CVMA offers a few safety tips to keep in mind:
- Keep all sweets away from pets. Chocolate, in particular, contains theobromine, a caffeine-like ingredient that can be potentially lethal to dogs. Gobbling up too much chocolate can result in vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and in severe cases, death. Do not place gifts of chocolate under your tree or on a tabletop where an inquisitive pooch might find them enticing.
- Keep wrapped candy away from pets. Small candies can cause choking, and the crinkly cellophane or aluminum wrappers can lead to stomach obstructions, if swallowed.
- Avoid tying yarn or ribbon around your pet’s neck. If you want to dress him/her up for the holidays, buy a festive, seasonal collar.
- Holiday plants — particularly poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, and amaryllis — can be toxic to pets. Keep them out of your dog or cat’s reach.
- Feed your pet nutritious snacks rather than “treating” them to high-calorie holiday foods. Our pets can put on extra pounds as quickly as we do during the holidays! Also, keep plenty of fresh water available for drinking. Pets should not be allowed to drink Christmas tree water, as it may contain pesticides or bacteria from the tree.
- Keep a careful eye on holiday decorations. All the extra cords for lighting can be tempting targets for chewing by pets. If possible, hide or tape them to the floor to prevent shocks or electrocution. Styrofoam decorations that look like candy or berries can be appealing to puppies, but can cause distressing consequences if chewed and swallowed.
- Christmas trees can become climbing posts, particularly for new kittens. Be sure your tree is secure and stable; consider anchoring it to the wall with fishing line, if necessary. To avoid pets shattering glass ornaments, hang breakable ornaments higher up on the tree. Loose tinsel is especially dangerous for cats, who consider it a play toy, but swallowing the metallic string can cause severe intestinal distress and damage.
- If you’re traveling for the holidays, bring along your pet’s favorite blanket, toy, and foods so he/she feels as comfortable as possible. Bring your veterinarian’s phone number with you, in case of an emergency.