Focus on Family: Holiday pet safety tips from Dr. Tony Kremer

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Dr. Tony Kremer

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Dr. Kremer's Tips:

Tree water  Animals will attempt to drink from any pool of water, including the one in which your tree is sitting! The water in your tree stand likely contains fertilizers and sap from the tree that will result in unpleasant stomach issues for your pet.

Electrical wires / Christmas lights  Anyone with puppies or bunnies should be especially vigilant about their animals chewing on electrical cords; doing so can give your furry friend an unwanted zap!

Ribbons, bows and tinsel Cats love to play with tinsel, yarn and ribbons! Be watchful as your cat plays during this season of abundant decorating since ingesting long, stringy objects can cause obstructions and bunching in the animal’s intestines that will require emergency surgery.

Homemade ornaments Anything edible that hangs on the tree spells trouble for your pooch. This includes gingerbread ornaments, popcorn balls, garland strings and candy canes.

Glass ornaments Dangly, shiny things within an animal’s reach are just begging to be broken. Cats will be tempted to bat them off the tree, posing a broken glass hazard for pets, kids and everyone involved. Plastic ornaments are a better bet.

Toxic plants

Candles Never leave pets alone in a room with burning candles. Candles aren’t really an ingestion hazard, but one swish of the tail could set the house on fire.

Potpourri Both dry potpourri and liquid potpourri in simmer pots pose a serious risk to pets. Liquid potpourri consists of essential oils and cationic detergents that can scald and also cause serious illness when lapped up. Dry potpourri, which consists of a variety of dried plants and pine cones, is often treated with essential oils; it is almost certain to cause stomach upset.

Alcohol  Alcohol and your pets is not joke. Even small amounts of beer, wine and liquor are toxic to animals.

 Brave the puppy dog eyes… say “NO” to table food!
Veterinarians get it. You feed Ralphie from the table. This isn’t great, but you definitely want to stay away from foods that are truly toxic to dogs and cats. Toxic foods include grapes and raisins, onions, garlic, chocolate and xylitol. Cats are lactose intolerant and should not be fed milk. And, dogs should never eat macadamia nuts or walnuts, even in very small amounts. The bottom line is, dogs’ and cats’ bodies are not equipped to digest human food. It’s best to not feed them people food at all.

But it’s so sparkly…
Ribbons, garland, tinsel, glass balls, ornaments that twirl… there is no end to the fascinating décor affiliated with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year. None of these objects are good for your pet, but long, stringy things like ribbons and tinsel are especially dangerous because, when ingested, they can cause binding in the intestinal tract. Cats are especially attracted to ribbons, yarn and tinsel; they are also sneaky and climb things, so it takes diligence to keep such temptations out of reach. Decorate with your pets in mind. Ask yourself if anything enticing is within reach.

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree…
There it is in your living room, the height of all Christmas peril: a beautiful Scotch pine tree. Your pets can get into trouble in numerous ways here. Some suggestions for reducing the risk:
Don’t let the animals drink the Christmas tree water, especially if you use an additive to keep the tree fresh.
Secure the tree by securing it to the floor with weights or by running fishing line from the top of the tree to the ceiling. It’s a tree. In the house. The cats are going to climb it.
Animals will inevitably knock your fragile glass ornaments off the tree, causing a danger to themselves and your family.  Opt for sturdy ornaments.

This little light of mine…
Candles are an integral part of our holiday celebrations. Even though animals aren’t drawn to flames, they can act rambunctiously and knock over lit candles. Only burn candles when you are there to monitor them.

Pick up after yourself! The holidays are fraught with tiny little pieces – Legos, Lite Brite pegs, stickers, swizzle sticks, foil-wrapped candies, and the list goes on. Cleaning up will make your home safer for your furry friends.