The most wonderful time of the year also means it’s time to brush up on some steps for keeping your pets safe in this joyful season. With all the beauty and festivities, there are quite a few safety hazards for our pets, such as lights and decorations going up, gifts and food lying around, and friends and family coming and going.
Christmas trees can present a big opportunity for trouble for pets. Experts recommend opting for an artificial tree, so you won’t have dry needles falling off that might be ingested, or water around the base of the tree that can become a danger – or a mess! Keep fragile ornaments on higher branches, and consider using florist wire or plastic ornament hooks, rather than metal ones. And skip the metallic tinsel, which can cause serious issues if swallowed. Depending on your individual animals, you might need to keep the gifts locked up until the last minute, especially any that might contain dangerous chocolate or other people-only foods.
When it comes to smaller holiday plants, be aware that poinsettias, lilies, mistletoe, English ivy, amaryllis and holly are not so jolly for pets – they have various levels of toxicity and can be dangerous if ingested. If you do have any around the house, make sure to keep them out of reach of your furry friends. Another option is to use artificial versions, which are safer and can be used again year after year.
Use extra caution with lit candles or consider battery-powered versions, which look pretty realistic these days. Strings of lights can be a fire danger or health hazard if chewed on, so look for cord protectors at your local hardware store. When your pets are home alone, be sure to unplug the decorative lights, just in case.
It wouldn’t be the holidays without our favorite foods and decadent desserts, but many of them are not good for dogs and cats. Foods that pose a health risk include onions, garlic, chocolate (especially dark chocolate), Xylitol (a sweetener found in sugarless gums and candies), grapes, raisins, raw yeast dough, onions, table salt, caffeine and alcoholic drinks.
Bits of turkey can be safe to feed dogs, but only with certain precautions. Turkey is rich in nutrients like protein, riboflavin, and phosphorus, but home-cooked turkeys are rarely cooked plain. All the spices and stuffing can be a recipe for disaster. If you decide to feed your dog turkey scraps, skip the skin, since the fat content can cause pancreatitis. Give them meat only, no onions or garlic. And most importantly, make sure there are no bones mixed in, which can be dangerous. If you have guests visiting, encourage them to spoil your pets with their own treats and lots of hugs instead of table scraps. With some thoughtful planning and a few extra steps, this holiday season can be jolly and safe for everyone in your household.
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