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December 15, 2023

Happy Holidays! We love seeing all of the pretty decorations at this time of year! Are you one to dive headfirst into decorations, or do you prefer a modest approach? Whether you’re creating Instagram-worthy light extravaganzas that draw people from miles away, or just subtly illuminating your space with lights and a couple of candles, you’ll want to factor your furry companions into your decoration plans. Fido and Fluffy definitely have a penchant for mischief, and that frisky streak is front and center during this special season. Read on as a local vet Burlington, ON shares essential tips to keep in mind while adorning your space for the holidays.

Know What Holiday Plants Are Unsafe For Pets

Those pretty seasonal plants feature prominently in many types of holiday decorations. Unfortunately, many of them are toxic to our furry companions.

  • Lilies are a big concern here, especially for cats. Anything in the true lily family, which also includes the Day, Tiger, Easter, Asiatic, and Japanese Show lilies, is poisonous to Fluffy. The entire plant is toxic. In fact, kitties can go into organ failure from just nibbling on a leaf or drinking a sip of the water. 
  • Yew is also highly poisonous to Fluffy and Fido, and can cause tremors, difficulty breathing, vomiting, seizures, and even death.
  • Holly and mistletoe can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. 
  • The amaryllis, another popular winter plant, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, abdominal pain, drooling, tremors, and anorexia, and may also cause intestinal blockages if ingested. 
  • Last but not least, we have poinsettias. They’re not as dangerous as some of the other plants listed, but can still cause stomach upset, vomiting, drooling, and oral irritation.

If you use real plants, keep them in high spots where your pet can’t get to them. Fake plants are a safer option, but they also can be dangerous. Some are treated with glitter or paint. Others have small pieces, whether it’s a plastic ‘berry’ or a cute little elf figurine, which are choking hazards. Err on the side of caution, and keep plants out of paws’ reach. Ask your Burlington, ON veterinarian for more information. 

Keep Small Items Out Of Paws’ Reach

Whenever we talk about petproofing, we always stress that anything small or sharp is unsafe. When it comes to holiday decorations, that includes things like small ornaments, ornament hooks, tinsel, pine needles, ribbons, manger pieces, small figurines, and anything fragile. Keep these types of things well away from your furry pal. You’ll also want to pick up pieces of needle or tinsel that have fallen to the ground.

Be Careful With Flames And Candles

Fires and pets are never a safe combination. This is definitely something to be aware of around the holidays. That cedar-scented candle may make your home look and smell amazing, but it is not safe for your furry pal. Keep candles in high spots, well out of paws’ reach. That applies to wax burners and potpourri burners as well. If you use a fire pit or fireplace, put a thick grate in front of it, to keep pets safely away.

Making Your Tree Pet-Safe

When decorating the tree, put only a few dull, unbreakable ornaments on the lower branches. Hang most of the ornaments, including anything small, sharp, fragile, or stringy, on the upper part of the tree. (Hanging glittery ornaments within easy reach of Fluffy’s murder mittens is basically asking for it.) You can also try blocking your feline pal’s access to the tree. One option is to block it off. You can use a puppy gate (which you can also decorate) or arrange presents so they block Fluffy’s path of destruction. Taste deterrents may also help.

You’ll also need to be careful if you have a live tree, as the water might contain traces of pesticides, herbicides, or fire retardants, all of which are unsafe for Fido and Fluffy. Use plain water in the bowl. Also, avoid using the tree store’s ‘food’ packet, which likely also contains unsafe chemicals for your pet. Covering the bowl isn’t a bad idea. Just don’t stop watering the tree: dry trees are a fire hazard.

Clear fallen needles and tinsel off the floor, as they pose choking risks for kids and pets and can cause severe internal injuries if swallowed. 

Ribbons, Ropes, And Strings: Also Hazardous To Our Furry Pals

Anything with ribbon or string is a huge danger to pets. First and foremost, these items pose both choking and entanglement risks. That alone is reason enough to be cautious, but that isn’t all. If ingested, ribbon and strings can cause very serious internal injuries as they pass through your pet’s gastrointestinal system. These incidents can quickly become life-threatening, and often require surgical intervention.

Some of the things to be cautious of here include tinsel, light strands, ribbons, strings, garlands, and popcorn strands. Some handmade or cloth items can also be unsafe if they unravel. (Kitties are often drawn to the things that are most dangerous for them, but that’s another topic.)

Company: Take Simple Steps To Keep The Peace

Are you having friends or family over in the next few weeks? Guests should never pose a threat: the main concern is that there could be a mishap. This could be anything from someone letting Fido out by mistake or stepping on Fluffy’s tail, to a child leaving a small toy out where your dog could find it.

Ask guests to keep their rooms closed. This can prevent common mishaps, such as Fido chewing on their shoes or Fluffy leaving a hairball in a suitcase. 

If your visitors are allergic to pets, set out tissues and over-the-counter medications for them. It’s also a good idea to vacuum and dust thoroughly, and change your air filters.

Holiday Pet Care Hack: Keep Them Occupied

Another thing that may work? Try distracting Fido and Fluffy by giving them their gifts early. Toys and treats are both ‘pawesome’ gift options for our furry pals. Spending time playing with your cute pet will also help. Hopefully, after a fun play session, your little buddy will be tired enough to nap rather than make messes.

Consider Your Pet’s Personality

Always keep your pet’s personality in mind when decorating. For instance, if you have a fearful dog, putting a huge dancing snowman up in the yard may not be a good idea. Fido may be terrified of it! As for Fluffy, well, if your feline pal is a champion at smacking things off tables, then putting a fragile glass angel on your coffee table is probably not going to end well. 

Keep in mind that decorations can be scary to some pets. If your furry friend seems very nervous, ask your Burlington, ON veterinarian about calming products and techniques.

In conclusion, the holidays can be a wonderful and beautiful time for both people and pets. After all, Fluffy and Fido are part of the family! Just take a few precautions to make sure that your home is not only cozy and inviting, but also safe.

All of us here at Brant Animal Clinic, your Burlington, ON animal clinic, wish you a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season. Please feel free to contact us for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs.

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