Howliday Horrors: Keeping Pets Safe During the Season

Cats, Dogs, Pets — By on January 6, 2012

Don’t let the Grrrrinch steal your Christmas. Safeguard your pets against holiday dangers so you can all enjoy the season.

Oh! The Christmas tree can be hazardous to your cat and dog’s health. Stabilize these monkey gyms by using guylines or hanging trees from the ceiling. Leave ornaments off branches within paw’s reach. Avoid using edible trimmings.

Curiosity and tinsel killed the cat. Although cativating, according to the nation’s largest pet insurer, the consumption of tinsel can be lethal.

Dangling cords invite gnawing and batting that can lead to burns or electric shock. Use a three prong grounded cord and cord protectors to prevent pets from sleeping in heavenly peace.

Your pets may be more pleased with the packaging than their presents from Santa Paws. Caution: ribbon, yarn and lumps of coal can cause intestinal obstruction.

You can make the area under the tree less enticing with citrus air freshener or cotton balls soaked in menthol ointment. Consider spraying your tree with a pet deterrent if Felix and Fido are treating it like a toothpick.

Tree water may contain fertilizers, pesticides, flame retardants, bacteria or pine tar. Preservatives added to the water can also make critters ill. Use a tight-fitting tree skirt to make the water less accessible.

Even though you may have forgotten the goodies you’ve wrapped, your dog’s nose knows they’re there. Keep gifts (especially edible ones) off the ground and out of stockings hung by the chimney with care.

Don’t just hide the eggnog from Uncle Fred. Felix and Fido can get alcohol poisoning too. Beware of Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in gums and candies. It’s toxic to pets as are grapes, raisins and macadamia nuts. Remember: it’s not Dogiva, it’s Godiva. The theobromine in chocolate can also be deadly to dogs and cats. Canines are more at-risk because they have sweet taste receptors like us.

Keep your companion animals away from countertops. They can easily be misconstrued as all-you-can-eat buffets. Carpet protectors placed nub-side up or double stick tape can deter pets from forbidden zones.

Be careful when decking your halls. Holly and mistletoe can be the kiss of death. Warning signs that your pet may be poisoned include changes in behavior, appetite or water consumption, or excessive licking and drooling. Red noses that glow in the dark are cool. If you are concerned, call your vet. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also offers consultations 24 hours a day at (888)426-4435 for a fee.

Although you may be fired up about the yuletide, beware of candles and fireplaces. These items can cause more than toasted Totos; Pyro-pets can start fires.

The in-laws may not feel blessed when Fido christens their tree. Consider boarding Fido or start behavioral training well in advance of your visit in order to avoid a Frosty reception next time.

Keep your companion animals’ routines in place as much as possible. If you don’t have time to exercise hyper hounds, send them to doggie daycare. Give pets peaceful spaces away from taunting toddlers. If possible, close off rooms with booby traps like Christmas trees and holiday spreads. Do yourself and your guests a favor; feed your pooch before the party (this may not do much good if you have a Labrahoover).

Not only is it inappropriate to gift your dog with the neighbor’s cat, it would also be a faux paw to gift your friends with pets. Instead, present them with adoption certificates that can be redeemed at the local shelter should they decide they want their own bundle of joy to the world.  

Starting off the New Year with a bang may work for you but not your pets. Fireworks may cause them to bolt.  Before the holidays, make sure your companion animals are microchipped and sport ID tags in case they get run over by a reindeer.

This time of year can be stressful for companion animals. With precautions in place, you can keep them safe and healthy. May your family enjoy a festive season sans grrrowls and Grrrinches and reckless reindeer. Happy howlidays!

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