Sarasota Veterinary Center

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Hidden Holiday Dangers in Your Home

Hidden Holiday Dangers in Your Home

The holiday season is here, and taking a few simple yet essential precautions to protect our furry family members is a good idea. Here’s what you need to know to ensure a safe and happy season for all!

Decorate With Care

Holiday decorations can be hazardous in homes with cats and dogs. Some animals (especially teething puppies and kittens) love to chew, and electrical cords and tree lights can lead to severe burns and fatal shocks. Cover up or tack cords down to keep them away from curious chewers.

A good rule of thumb: If any part or all of your holiday decorations will fit in a pet’s mouth, it’s potentially dangerous. Keep tinsel, ornaments, rubber bands, balloons, strings, and ribbons out of your pet’s reach.  Read the warnings on items like spray-on snow or water additives for the tree. Never put a ribbon around an animal’s neck or allow pets to play with plastic or foil wrappings.  Inquisitive young animals like kittens can suffocate in plastic; in older animals, it can get caught in their intestinal tracts when ingested.

Look Before You Cook

Be careful in your kitchen, too. Cookies, turkey with all the fixings, desserts, and other rich holiday foods can upset the gastrointestinal tracts of your pets and lead to vomiting, diarrhea, or even pancreatitis. Never give bones from turkey, chicken, pork, or fish to pets, as these bones can splinter and cause serious internal injuries or intestinal blockages.

Chocolate contains theobromine, a powerful stimulant that can be toxic to pets. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are especially dangerous. Alcoholic beverages can be toxic, too, so watch out for pets trying to sneak a sip of your eggnog, beer, or other beverages.

Beautiful, But Deadly

Many plants—including some seasonal varieties—are toxic to pets, including:

Christmas Rose                                  Elephant Ear                           Pyracantha
Holly                                                   Eucalyptus                              Oleander                         
Mistletoe                                             Spider Plants                          Boxwood
Philodendron                                      Azalea                                     Jerusalem Cherry
Dieffenbachia                                     Ivy                                          Plant Bulbs
Lilies                                                   Amaryllis

Be sure to keep these poisonous plants well out of your pet’s reach!

Hot Topics

Watch out for hot irons, coffee pots, stove burners, potpourri, candles, and space heaters. Sometimes, the pleasant aromas overcome common sense, and your pets may try to get too close and get burned. Other times, they might just want to feel warm, so if you have a fireplace, use a screen when you light a fire.

Outdoor Safety

Remember to knock on the hood of your car or honk the horn on chilly mornings to wake up a sleeping cat who may be napping or trying to keep warm on your engine or in the wheel well.
It’s also essential to remember that if you put antifreeze in your engine, it’s critical to clean up any spills immediately.  Antifreeze smells and tastes good to pets, but even a tiny amount can kill them. Tightly close containers and keep them where your pets cannot access them.

If you use common sense and remember that pets—much like young children—are curious, you’ll know what critical steps you should take to ensure that your family and pets will spend a joyous and safe holiday together.