Pet Corner: Holiday happenings pose potential problems for pets

Date Published: 
December 6, 2013

With the upcoming holidays, the parties, the celebrations, you need to take some extra care to be sure your pets are safe.

There are more things for your unsupervised pet to get into, to eat or to destroy. There are more chances for your pet to escape through open doors. There are more chances for your pet to be fed foods strange to it, allowing more chances for digestive upset. There are more people coming and going from your home who are possibly strangers to your pet, allowing more chances for upsetting your pet and allowing more chances for your pet to react by biting.

Coastal Point • Stock Photo: Pets in Christmas outfits.Coastal Point • Stock Photo: Pets in Christmas outfits.You need to take special care and consideration of your pets at this time of the year. Our families become so busy at this time of the year, and often we do not pay as close attention to our pets as we should. There are so many more things in and around our homes that our pets can get into.

First off, be sure to keep chocolates out of all pets’ reach. Chocolates — even in small quantities — can be harmful or fatal to our pets. Poinsettias, mistletoe and holly can also harm our pets. Some flower bulbs are also dangerous to them.

Our Christmas trees can also be dangerous to our pets. Cats like to climb them; dogs like to knock them over. The decorations can fall and break, and pets can cut their feet on the broken pieces. Dogs sometimes will also try to eat the ornaments or the broken pieces, which can cut their mouths or their intestines. They can also cause intestinal blockages, requiring immediate surgery.

Ribbons and wrapping paper can also harm our pets. Ribbons can become entangled around our pets’ feet, legs or neck, cutting off circulation or strangling them. Cats, especially, like the ribbons, and it is fine to play with your cat with the ribbon; however, do not leave your cat unsupervised with the ribbon, or with tinsel. They can get caught in it or they could eat it and it could cause intestinal problems.

Dogs and cats can get let loose from our homes more easily during all of the holiday hustle and bustle. With holiday guests coming and going, our pets can quickly sneak out.

Also, with all of the guests visiting, they will often sneak holiday “goodies” to our pets. These “goodies” are often not good for our pets. Some of these goodies can make our pets very ill and even cause death; others may just make them sick. Remind your guests to please not feed your pets.

You may even want to provide your guests with suitable treats to feed to your pets. Buy some small-sized low-calorie treats, put them in a pretty holiday container and make a small sign that advises your guests that these are the only treat your pet is allowed, and only one per guest.

Or you can make a small tray of pet-friendly treats and place it on your buffet table and label it with your pet’s name. You can use items like carrots, green beans, small pieces of apple, zucchini, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, lean turkey or chicken cut into small pieces. You could even make some doggie “meatballs” using ground turkey or chicken. (Be sure to keep your ingredients pet-friendly.)

Or you could bake your own “dog cookies” cut into special animal shapes — just make sure you label them so your guests don’t eat all of your dogs’ cookies. (Even though they are safe for people to eat.)

Many of the foods found at our holiday celebrations can be toxic to our pets. These include, but are not limited to grapes, raisins, chocolate, macadamia nuts, coffee, alcohol, caffeine, avocado, sugar, candy, chewing gum, apple seeds, hops, salt, xylitol and more. These items — even in small amounts, can be dangerous or possibly deadly to your pet. Please, be sure to keep these items away from your pets.

Also, remember that guests will accidentally drop items on the floor that your pet will always find. Even the old, deaf and blind pets seem to know exactly the moment that special goodie hits the floor. Also, with so much activity going on at this time of the year, it is very easy for your “semi-neglected pet” to decide to help themself and decide to take up the pet favorite sport of “counter-surfing.”

Cats, especially, like our Christmas trees, but even dogs are intrigued with them. Be sure that trees are securely set up. Also, do not place trees near fireplaces, just in case your pet decides to knock it over when you are not there. One year, my cats knocked our tree over four times. (OK, it wasn’t set up well in the first space, but, still — four times!)

If you look at the tree from a cats’ viewpoint, it is a very tempting giant toy. It has lights, sometimes even flashing lights; it has sparkly things hanging down that move when the cat “smacks” them. It is a tree, which cats like to climb. The tinsel and icicles are just too tempting for them.

There are some sprays that they say deter cats, and some people say they do work. You can check with your local pet store and see if they carry them. Sometimes, just providing your cat with other tempting toys and spending a little extra play time with them is enough to keep them away.

While this is a happy and busy time of the year, don’t forget your pets. Plan ahead. Be prepared. Even though your schedule is tight, make sure you don’t neglect your pets. A pet tired out from play time is less likely to get into trouble. Set aside time to spend with your pet. Bake them some special “Christmas cookies” of their own. Make them their own buffet tray.

Also, remember that, just like we gain extra weight from all of the holiday goodies, your pet can put on the pounds if you give them too many of the wrong kind of treats and too little exercise. Don’t let your pet’s weight get away from you.

So, watch the open doors. Watch the dangerous foods. Watch for too many treats. Watch for the wrong treats. Watch for all of the possible dangers. But, most of all, enjoy your pets and enjoy the season!

Cheryl Loveland is a dog groomer, pet-sitter, dog trainer and fosterer for many unwanted animals. She does rescue work for all types of animals and has owned or fostered most types of domestic animals and many wild ones. She currently resides with two bloodhounds, which she has shown in conformation and is currently training her male bloodhound for search-and-rescue work. Also residing with her are a bichon frisée, two cats and two birds. She welcomes comments, questions and suggestions for future articles at countryservice@comcast.net. Remember, she is not an expert: she offers her opinions and suggestions from her experience and research.