Pup parents beware! You can have the best-behaved pooch in the world but that will not stop them from being curious. After all, it's better to be safe than sorry. Tell your family to keep their eyes open for any of the following!
Humans often use the holidays as an excuse to indulge in rich, fattening foods. But you’re not doing your pets any favors by sharing your favorite treats with them, says Dr. Rachel Barrack of New York City’s Animal Acupuncture.
“These rich foods can result in pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas that causes vomiting and diarrhea,” she says.
Sugar-Free Candies and Pastries
Another potentially dangerous treat is sugar free pastries and candies, says Dr. Wismer. These often contain the sugar substitute xylitol. In dogs this can cause insulin problems, leading to low blood sugar and liver failure.
While dogs might enjoy a nice big bone to chew on, cooked meat bones can actually splinter and cause blockage or lacerations in the gastrointestinal tract, says Dr. Barrack. It’s best to throw that leftover turkey or chicken bone in the trash and stick to pet-safe bones from a trusted manufacturer.
Pets should never be given alcohol, says Dr. Barrack. It depresses the nervous system. Dogs and cats can get drunk just like people, says Dr. Wismer, leading to dangerously low blood pressure and comas.
Mixed drinks can be especially problematic, she says. They’re stronger than beer and wine, and many holiday drinks are made with a dairy base (think White Russians and eggnog), which dogs and cats love.
If ingested, holly plants can cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats and dogs, says Dr. Barrack. Injuries from their spiny leaves can also cause excessive drooling, lip smacking and headshaking, she notes.
While you might want to hang up the mistletoe and encourage unsuspecting human couples to kiss under the holiday plants, this popular Christmas decoration should be kept away from pets. If ingested, the plant can cause stomach problems. Large amounts may lead to hypotension, seizures and even death, says Dr. Barrack.
Whether your tree is real or fake, make sure it’s properly secured and has some sort of barrier to deter cats from going for a climb, says Dr. Barrack. In addition to ruining your decorating work, cats could injure themselves if they climb trees.
If your tree is real, don’t let cats or dogs drink from the water reservoir, especially if you use a fertilizer. Drinking stagnant water, with or without additives, can cause vomiting and diarrhea, she says.
“Tinsel is one of the most dangerous items that we can put on the tree,” says Dr. Wismer. It’s made from plastic or metal, which can cut through a curious cat’s digestive tract, so it’s best to skip this shiny tree-topper.
Strings of popcorn or cranberries, as well as ribbons on presents, can cause similar problems for pets.
Heaters and Warming Devices
Space heaters, heated blankets and other warming devices could cause trouble if your pet knocks them over, tangles the cords or moves them from their original position. Never use kerosene heaters indoors, warns Dr. Wismer. These could pose a carbon monoxide risk, potentially poisoning you and your pets.
There have also been moves to make antifreeze less appealing to pets by adding a bittering agent that discourages them from lapping it up off the driveway floor. But it’s not a foolproof solution.
Always clean up antifreeze spills thoroughly and call your vet if you suspect your pet has ingested even a drop. Antifreeze can cause kidney failure and death, warned Dr. Wismer.
There are always more things to watch for and you can find them on Pet MD.
We do not at all want to take the fun out of you and Rover’s Christmas. Nor do we want to tell you to not put frilly decorations on the tree. But be cautious. If you can place the more breakable bulbs above the dog’s sightline or be absolutely certain the kids are not feeding him eggnog that is a terrific start!