Keep pets safe with Christmas decorations up
I hope your Thanksgiving was very joyful. And now, the Christmas decorations go up! Christmas music and decorations bring us joy during a very bleak year, so we’re all anxious to get them going. But in the process, keep the safety of your pets in mind. Dogs and cats get excited about all the new toys that are suddenly available to play with. The last thing you want to do is end up in the veterinary emergency room with your dog having foreign body surgery.
Let’s begin with the Christmas tree. If you are going to put up a tree, put your pets outside or shut them into a room away from the activity so that they are not under foot. This allows you to clean up all the stray ornaments and wrappings before they return to the room. It also keeps them from seeing you decorate, or, in their eyes, play with the tree. If they think you play with the tree, then they will be more likely to want to play with it too.
Carefully consider where you are going to place the tree. Find a place that is not commonly traveled. A corner of the room would be ideal. This would reduce the risk of your pet running into it as he runs through the house. After you have put up the tree, certain decorations should be avoided. It’s very much like baby proofing the tree. Glass ornaments are out. Tinsel isn’t really popular anymore, but if you are considering it, don’t. Tinsel is a favorite treat for pets, and it becomes a very dangerous linear foreign body if eaten.
In fact, any of the string-type decorations should be avoided. Putting decorations a few feet off the bottom is helpful also. If you have a cat that just will not stop trying to climb the tree, aluminum foil spread at the base of the tree is a great deterrent. Cats do not like to walk on the foil.
Securing the tree will help keep it from turning over. If the tree is in the corner, you can put a small hook in the wall and use clear fishing line to fasten it. The hook can also be placed in the ceiling and the top of the tree secured with the invisible line.
Christmas greenery is often used to decorate the home. But remember that certain Christmas plants are considered poisonous. Keep your pets away from poinsettias and mistletoe.
Certain holiday foods are toxic. The most famous is chocolate. Keep any chocolate up and away. Other foods worth mentioning are grapes, raisins, and chewing gums or diet candy that contain sorbitol. The holidays are always a time to eat. Feeding your pet rich table food can also be a trigger for dangerous conditions such as pancreatitis or colitis. These illnesses present as vomiting and diarrhea.
Avoiding these hazards and keeping a close eye on your pet can help you have a safe and happy holiday season!
Have a question for Dr. Johns? E-mail her at JohnsDVM@aol.com. Write to Pet Peeves, P.O. Box 2949, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32549. Johns is a Niceville veterinarian.