Christmas is that magical time of the year when most of us get in the holiday spirit by indulging in seasonal food, enjoying time with friends & family, and decorating the house with festive accessories - usually with the Christmas tree as the star of the show!
But as we enjoy the holidays, it’s also important to keep our pets in mind. Check out our tips for keeping your pets safe, healthy, and happy throughout the Christmas season.
Whether you opt for a real tree or an artificial one, both can be potentially dangerous to your pets.
Real Christmas trees shed sharp needles - if mistakenly eaten by your pet, they can become lodged in their throat and cause damage. They may also become embedded in your pets’ paws, which can really hurt!
Some types of trees also produce natural oils, which can be mildly toxic to cats, dogs, and rabbits. When consumed, they may irritate the mouth and stomach. And since some pets like to drink from the tree’s water stand, they are at risk of ingesting the oils, or runoff fertilizer, pesticides, and chemicals that may have been used for growth and maintenance of the tree. As those toxins could have serious negative health effects on your pet, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on your furry friends!
A benefit of artificial trees is that they’re less of a threat for sharp needles, oils, and contaminated water. However, pets can be curious and easily tempted to play or explore the tree, especially with glistening tinsel, sparkling fairy lights and dangling baubles that might catch their eye.
Whilst they may seem pretty harmless, when put into context it’s easily understandable why just a tree can pose a danger risk to your pet.
● Fairy lights - Pets may chew or nibble on these which can cause electric shock and burns.
● Tinsel - If consumed by your pet, they may need surgery to remove this. The tinsel can cause blockages and the body doesn't digest this linear foreign body.
● Baubles - If knocked off the tree they can easily break, leaving sharp edges which your pet may cut themselves on.
How to safely arrange your Christmas tree
Try to have your tree positioned well out of reach, this may not be 100% effective, but ensuring it’s placed in the safest place possible, away from pets, will lower these health risks.
Pets are more able to reach the bottom branches of the tree, so placing decorations, especially those that are fragile, from the middle of the tree to the top will help prevent your pet from putting any object they shouldn’t in their mouth.
If you have a pet that likes to climb, and will attempt to climb your Christmas tree, make sure it is securely fastened or positioned so that it won’t fall over.
Avoid leaving wires from fairy lights hanging from branches or trailing on the floor, so there’s less of a chew risk.
Aside from trees, there are other festive Christmas plants that are potentially toxic. You should consult your vet immediately if your pet has consumed or brushed up against any of the following:
● Poinsettia - irritates the mouth and causes vomiting
● Mistletoe - if a small amount is consumed it will cause stomach upset and if a large amount is consumed it will cause serious heart or neurological issues
● Ivy - Causes nausea and stomach upset when swallowed and can irate the skin if rubbed up against
Food, Drink & Household Items
We’ve covered trees, plants, and decorations on how they can pose health risks to our pets, but there are a handful of other things around the house to be mindful of.
Although we enjoy indulging on festive food and drink, it’s not so nice for our pet’s digestive systems! A seasonal spread on the side may be too enticing to resist, so be sure to keep these foods out of reach.
Chocolate is poisonous for our pets because it contains a chemical called Theobromine, which can affect the central nervous system, and/or cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Chocolate also contains caffeine, which isn’t safe for animal consumption.
If your pet has managed to nab some chocolate, monitor them closely and seek a vet’s assistance if they show any symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting, panting, relentless or excessive urination, and/or increased heart rate.
Mince pies are traditionally made with raisins or sultanas, which are particularly toxic for dogs. If ingested, they may lead to acute kidney failure, and in some extreme cases, death.
Although we tend to visualise dogs enjoying a nice bone, the ones that come from our Christmas roasts aren’t always safe for our canine companions! Bones are a choking hazard and can lead to obstructions in their digestive tract, and cooked bones may be more dangerous with sharp edges that can tear the linings of your dogs’ throat, intestines, or gut.
While it might not be as large a risk, having alcohol around the house during the holidays means there’s still a chance that your pet could get into the booze. Alcohol is obviously dangerous for our pets as they’re not suited to metabolise it appropriately. If you suspect that your pet has consumed any alcohol, we recommend seeking veterinary assistance.
Around the House
Snow globes can be easily knocked over and smashed, some globes contain antifreeze and if consumed by your pet it can be fatal. Avoid cheap imported snow globes and ensure they are well out of the way and reach of pets.
Candles are dangerous for both pets and humans. To avoid fires, place out of reach and away from materials. If your pet has existing health issues it can also cause breathing issues.
Wrapping paper can actually contain small amounts of bleach, chlorine and toxic dyes, however it is unlikely this will pose a threat to your pet but if your pet does consume large amounts of wrapping paper, it can cause blockage in the stomach or intestines. After use, always store wrapping paper away from pets.
Fires are obviously a risk to everyone if not appropriately and safely used. Real log or coal fires can spit unexpectedly, whilst gas and electric fires can cause severe and painful burns. Always take extra care when having a fire and keep a close eye that your pets don’t get too close. It's worth having a screen in front of your fire to reduce risk.
Happy Christmas from all of us at We Love Pets!
Written by Ashleigh WarrenAn online content writer, now guest blogger for We love Pets, my passions include spending time and making memories with my family, traveling, and of course precious animals - big and small! I love meeting people that love their animals. Pets, and their special place in our hearts, unite the whole human family, they become the family we choose, which I find electrifying. I grew up surrounded by dogs & cats and have always had an interest in the less common, but equally awesome, pets out in the world such as birds, fishes, cats, hamsters, chinchillas. Being in the presence of any animal for me, is one of the greatest joys in life!
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