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Holiday Dangers for our Pets

We often think of leftover food as being a danger for our pets this holiday season, but there may be other potential hazards lurking in our homes that we don’t often think about.

Here’s more with Tom Dock, Director of Communications, Noah’s Animal Hospital.

  1. Your social media news feeds are probably full of specific foods to avoid for your pets during the holidays, but this time of year brings other dangers as well.
  2. Holiday decorations certainly need our attention!  From the tree to plants to ornaments, each one has a possibility of danger.  
    1. Ever wonder why there are so many social media memes about keeping Christmas trees safe from pets?   I am pretty sure that our feline friends are the overwhelming reason for trees in cages, trees on walls and the infamous “half tree”.
    2. Just by their curious nature, cats will be drawn to climbing the tree.  In the case of a real tree, pine oils/sap could cause some digestive issue.  Even fake trees can cause potential issues in the gut if the pet eats those plastic needles.
  3. Glass ornaments can sparkle and reflect light, mimicking the movement of prey…and this is an irresistible lure for cats!
    1. Those glass ornaments can break, leaving little shards of sharpness waiting for naked toes, delicate kitty paws, or puppy lips and tongues.  
  4. Tinsel and garland are extremely dangerous for cats as the string like structure again mimics prey. 
    1. It’s very easy for a cat to swallow a piece of tinsel and end up with a linear foreign body. Spending the holiday in an animal emergency hospital is no one’s idea of fun, so keep the kitty away from the tree or avoid these types of decorations.
  5. With all of the extra lights on the tree or around the house, veterinarians will often see increased numbers of electrical burns at this time of year.  Make sure your pets can’t get at the cords if at all possible.
    1. Pets with electrocution or electrical burns will have problems breathing and will likely have burns in their mouth and on their tongue.
  6. They are certainly pretty, but snow globes contain a type of antifreeze.  While this is not problematic for most situations, if a curious cat or toddler knocks one off the mantle, you will want to get this mess cleaned up as soon as possible.
  7. Many people worry about holiday ornamental plants. 
    1. Urban myth has poinsettias as listed as deadly to pets, but, in reality, these plants are reasonably safe. Poinsettias have a milky white sap that could cause mild vomiting, diarrhea and drooling, but overall, it’s a fairly safe plant. 
    2. More concerning plants include live mistletoe and holly.  Both have the potential to cause vomiting and diarrhea, but mistletoe, in large amounts and the European variety, can cause cardiovascular issues and/or neurological signs. Thankfully, most pets won’t eat that much and we don’t tend to see these used decoratively much here in the US.
    3. In general, lilies are more of a problem closer to Easter, but cat owners should be aware that many types lilies are deadly to their feline friends! It only takes a leaf or two, or in some cases, just the pollen to put a cat into kidney failure!  If you are sending floral arrangements to friends with cats, make sure the florist keeps lilies out of the bouquet!