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Posted on 12-05-2016

The glittering lights and beautiful decorations of the holiday season are wonderful to look at, but for pets, they can pose some problems. To keep holiday fun from turning into a Christmas Eve-mergency, it is important to take the proper precautions and keep certain things out of reach of dogs and cats!

Christmas trees (the real kind!) will invariably shed their needles. These are trouble for pets if ingested, as they can cause upset stomachs and also irritate mouths with their sharp pointed ends. Switch to an artificial tree if you wish, or try to make sure that the area around your tree is kept as clear of pine needles as possible. The water in your tree stand can be tempting to thirsty pups and kitties, but it can harbor bacteria, and if there are any fertilizers added to the water, they could be dangerous if ingested. You can solve this problem as well by putting up an artificial tree, or by covering the open water so that pets cannot reach it!

Tree ornaments, whether glass, plastic, or homemade, should be kept out of pets’ reach as much as possible. Reserve breakable ornaments and decorations for high branches or shelves – curious paws can knock these items from where they belong, and if they should fall to the floor and break, they can cause cuts and injuries. Any decoration or tree ornament, if small enough to swallow whole or if chewed up into pieces, can cause serious intestinal blockages if eaten by a cat or dog. Tinsel and garland and similar decorations pose the same risk to pets if eaten! Salt clay ornaments can be a fun craft project for the kids, but the sodium content of the dough used to make them is way too high for pets to handle and can be deadly if eaten. Consider keeping these decorations higher up out of reach as well, or perhaps avoid using them altogether.

Strands of bright glowing lights are lovely to look at, but some pets seem to find enjoyment in chewing on electrical wires and cords! It is important to keep strands of lights away from pets as much as is possible, because one bite could mean serious electrocution or burns, and exposed wires from chew-happy pets can be a fire danger. If you like candles at your holiday parties, be careful if you have cats that enjoy counters and tabletops, so that kitty can avoid an accidentally burned tail or whiskers. This also applies for your Hanukkah menorah! Never leave candles unattended, especially when pets are nearby.

Houses full of people for holiday parties and get-togethers can cause some pets to have stranger danger and high anxiety. If you have a nervous dog or cat, and plan to have people over this season that Fluffy has not yet met or that Fido is wary of, check with your veterinarian! There are products available that can help, from cat pheromone sprays and wipes or pheromone collars for dogs and cats, to chewable treats chock full of nice, calming ingredients. If your pet still does not wish to participate in party time, don’t force them! They may have a better time in a quiet room all alone – make sure that there are none of the previously mentioned holiday hazards in reach while doggie or kitty is flying solo. Here’s to a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season for all!

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