Hazards of Christmas Decorations for Pets
The holidays are upon us, including all of the beautiful lights and decorations. Not unlike having a toddler during the holidays, consideration of what Fido’s little paws might be able to get into plays a part in how and where to decorate. The hazards of Christmas decorations for pets aren’t always as obvious as we might think. Before bringing out Aunt Betty’s heirloom ornament or adorning every doorway with lights, read on for some holiday safety tips and suggestions for this visually stimulating time of year.
Oh, Christmas Tree
Bringing a beautiful tree into your home during the holidays is one of the hallmarks of the season. The smell of fresh pine and the beauty of the lights twinkling in an otherwise unlit room can be magical. That is, until your pet gets a hold of it.
If you have a new puppy or kitten, trying to keep them away from a shiny decorated tree can be rather difficult. This can be true even for older pets. Remember, they’re not seeing a holiday tradition, they’re seeing chew toys and play things. If there’s a chance your pet will be alone with your tree you’ll want to keep this in mind.
Most pups and cats love to chew on sticks and twigs. If given the chance, Fluffy might just start gnawing on the branches of your tree. Did you know that the oils of a fir tree can actually be quite irritating to mouth tissue which can cause excessive drooling and even vomiting. Even more hazardous are the needles of those branches when swallowed. Tree needles, if enough are swallowed, can become caught in the intestinal tract. This can sometimes result in the puncturing of the lining or a bunching together causing an obstruction. Both can have extremely serious consequences.
Are you a fan of faux snow? Flocking is the process of depositing many small fiber particles onto the branches of a tree to simulate the look of snow. Beware that if enough of the flocking is ingested by your pet, it too can lead to significant issues for your pet.
As if all of that is not enough, did you know that some trees are treated with chemicals to preserve their life-span after being cut? The concern with that process is that the chemicals will leach into the water of your tree stand. If a thirsty pup or kitty gets a hold of that water, they can ingest the poisons. An easy remedy for this is to be sure that a tree skirt, towel, or even aluminum foil covers the water to keep pets from drinking it.
All Those Lights
Not to put too fine a point on it, but electrocution from chewing on a cord is the most common type of electrical injury for a pet. Unless you are certain that your animal won’t want to chew the tree lights, consider keeping them away from the bottom of the tree. This also applies to lights placed around doorways or other places that pets can reach. Electrocution, as it sounds, can be quite painful for your pet. Injuries can result in damage to mouth tissue and the surrounding tissue and hair. Some animals have long-term complications resulting from chewing on electrical cords. If you believe that Fido is trustworthy, it doesn’t hurt to periodically check cords for signs of chewing.
In an abundance of caution, we recommend moving your most valuable and delicate decorations to upper branches of your tree. As dogs wag those tails and cats bat at shiny objects, those low hanging decorations may not be safe. If your cat is a climber or a jumper, you may want to forgo those favorites for a while. Some ornaments can be placed in an area out of reach of your pets but visible to you and your guests. Do you have edible ornaments? Things like candy canes, popcorn or those made of dough are tempting to pets. Consider leaving those off of the tree to keep pets from climbing to get to them.
Lastly, we are warning against the dangers of tinsel to your pet. The trend of putting tinsel, originally made from silver, on a tree started in the 1600’s. Today, tinsel is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). In the UK, a company called Festive produces 14 million meters of it. If your pet eats even a few strands of tinsel – and pets do this more often than you might imagine — they are likely to become ill. In severe cases, tinsel ingestion is fatal.
Decorations Not on Your Tree
While the tree is probably the biggest attraction for your pet, these items should also be monitored:
- Poinsettia Plants – which are mildly poisonous to pets if ingested
- Advent Calendars – which often contain candy that can make your pets ill
- Live Mistletoe – which is mildly to moderately poisonous to pets and humans
It’s Just Such an Exciting (or Stressful) Time
With all of the hustle and bustle and new sights and smells, everyone is excited. Or stressed. This includes your pets. To help mitigate excitable accidents take preventive measures for them. Allow your pets extra play time or extended walks to burn off the energy/stress. It is also helpful to provide a safe and quiet space for your pets to escape to.
We hope that you enjoy your holidays and that your pets will, too!
For more information about the Hazards of Christmas Decorations for Pets or general questions you can contact:
Christi Phillips, CPDT with Posh Paws Pet Care, LLC
Visit our website at PoshPawsPetCareSC.com
Or send us a note from our contact page here.