Keep the holidays happy and safe for your pets
Monterey County Animal Services offers tips to keep your pets safe during the holiday festivities
The holidays are in full swing. Holidays bring special cards, gifts decorated with ribbons, tinsel or yarn, and special decorations like Christmas trees. Unfortunately, animals appreciate these items, as well -- and many of them can cause serious damage.
As always, safety first — During gatherings put your pets in a quiet room away from the commotion to reduce their stress and chance of escape. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with up-to-date ID and dog license on your pooch in case it does escape with your guests. Microchipping your pet is recommended as an added precaution, since a lost pet with a microchip has a greater chance of being reunited with its owner.
- Anchor trees securely. Climbing cats and dogs with wagging tails can knock over your tree.
- Hang breakable, glass ornaments well out of reach. The small glass and metal fastenings can be stepped on or even swallowed by your pet.
- Keep tinsel, ribbons and garland out of pets’ reach, especially cats that are intrigued by them. These can become lodged in their intestines, cause obstructions and lead to surgery or death.
- Clean up pine needles frequently. They can be toxic when eaten by your pet.
- Prevent your pet from drinking water in the tree stand if you have added preservative chemicals. These can be poisonous to pets. Also, stagnant water can contain bacteria, which may lead to vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
Holiday house plants
Although they add a warm touch, many plants can harm your pets. Keep these potentially dangerous bloomers well out of reach.
- Lilies can be deadly to cats, and many types can cause cats to have kidney failure.
- Poinsettias, although not as toxic as people often think, can upset your pet's digestive system.
- Mistletoe, especially the berries, is highly toxic, can cause stomach upset and has the potential to cause fatal heart problems.
- Holly can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and lethargy.
- Certain types of ivy, such as English ivy, can also cause severe harm.
Lights, candles and fragrance
- Keep lights and extension cords safely secured or covered to deter chewing, which can lead to electric shock or even electrocution. Better yet, invest in pet-proof extension cords, or spray with products such as Bitter Apple or Chew Stop.
- Candles can be fragrant and enticing to pets. But they can be a fire hazard if knocked over by an exuberant pet, and the fumes can be harmful to birds.
- Liquid potpourri and sachets, popular during the holidays, can be very dangerous. Exposure can cause skin or oral damage to your pet and may cause illness or death.
Before you give in to the pleading eyes and feed your pet leftovers, be aware of the harmful consequences of feeding “people” food to any companion animal.
One way to reduce this temptation is to feed your pet before guests arrive, so your pet will be less likely to beg and steal food. Inform your guests of the house rules regarding your pet, such as not feeding him scraps from the table. Also, if your guests smoke, be extra vigilant and keep nicotine and alcohol out of your pet’s reach. These can be highly toxic -- even deadly!
Below are some foods that can be harmful to your pet on holidays and year-round:
- Rich, fatty foods, such as turkey skins or gravy can cause pancreatitis, an inflammation of a digestive gland, and can be very painful and serious, leading to hospitalization. Stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea can occur if pets consume these items. Limit table scraps, and let your guests know as well.
- Any kind of bone can tear or obstruct your pet's intestinal tract. Make certain all bones are disposed of properly. Poultry bones can be especially dangerous or even fatal to animals.
- Often used to tie the turkey during roasting, strings can tie up your pet's insides, too.
- Found in abundance in turkey stuffing, onions are toxic and can destroy a dog's red blood cells, leading to anemia. Foods containing high amounts of onion powder should also be avoided.
- Chocolate -- especially baking chocolate -- can actually kill your dog, so keep all such goodies well out of reach. Chocolate can affect the nervous system and cause urinary system and heart muscle damage in your pet. It also contains theobromine, which can be especially harmful to dogs if ingested in large quantities.
In addition, keep all leftover food out of reach in a closed container. Any garbage can contain toxins such as e-coli that can affect your pet's organs. This includes leftover tinfoil that, when chewed, can obstruct your pet’s intestinal tract.
And a reminder, if your pet becomes lost, visit your local animal shelter daily to search for your pet. If you need directions to your appropriate animal shelter, call Monterey County Animal Services, 769-8850. Create flyers and post throughout your neighborhood and with local veterinary offices.
Be proactive in searching for your pet. It may not be able to find its way home on its own.