December 9, 2009



The Christmas Season is upon us! Take a deep breath and relax. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing gifts, decorations, meals and sleeping arraignments (for those of us hosting family members and their 4-legged companions). Why not take a minute to ensure the safety of pets (visiting and live-in) this Christmas by reviewing some pet hazards?


Pine needles pose a great danger to pets. They may get lodged in an animal’s esophagus, making for painful and difficult swallowing. Mistletoe may get you kissed, but should your pet consume this holiday green it will likely cause a drop in blood pressure, vomiting and a swollen throat. Other holiday foliage, including Holly and Poinsettias, contain toxins that could lead to severe stomach problems, as well as skin, mouth and eye irritation. Worse yet, Yew is extremely toxic, and one mouthful could be deadly.

Some pets like to drink tree water, which under can be dangerous. The problem lies in fertilizers that may have been added to the water, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting, as well as certain types of pine sap that are poisonous. Furthermore, stagnant water at the base of the tree can have extremely high bacterial content, which can cause similar side effects as fertilizers and sap.
Old artificial trees may release toxic fumes if placed near heat (like a fireplace or space heater). Worse yet, some of the plastics used may dissolve into dust, making it difficult to spot. If you own an older tree replace it soon – It poses a danger to your entire family!

Shiny decorations and candles don’t mix well with curious pets. Make sure that you do not leave any tinsel, ribbon and ornament hooks where they may be accessible to your furry pals. Wag’N also recommends that you do not keep unattended flames at any time, especially in the vicinity of pets. Remember, just because your dog does not usually climb or jump onto furniture it does not mean that it never will. Electrical lights pose their own hazards, such as pets chewing on the colorful cords or tripping – make sure to tape all exposed cords to walls or floors to prevent accidents. Glass ornaments should be kept out of reach as they may be broken by pets. Glass shards are extremely dangerous if consumed by a hungry pup.

Yule logs are popular in the holiday season as they provide us with colorful flames. These logs contain heavy metal salts, which are toxic to pets if ingested. Naturally, any open flame also presents a danger to pets.

Should your pet eat something that it is outside of its usual diet it may cause intestinal inflammation, as well as vomiting and diarrhea. Side effects depend on the type of pet you have, as well as their size, weight and eating habits.

There are, however, certain food items that may cause life threatening conditions on your pet such as:
>> Alcoholic beverages, chocolate (of any kind), coffee and onions. Ham and other fatty items can cause severe gastrointestinal distress if eaten in even small amounts. Please keep all of these items out of reach at all times, and instruct your guest not to feed your pets any scraps or leftovers.
>> Do not feed pets cooled drippings – The combination of human seasonings and rich stock can easily upset your pet’s digestive system.


Bring in your pets when the temperature reaches 30 degrees with the wind chill. Dogs and cats can get frost bitten ears, nose and feet if left outside. Many people think that dogs with heavy coats can resist temperature changes much like wolves and other wild animals. Dogs evolved from wolves over 15000 years ago and the differences don’t end there… (read on)

>> Keep antifreeze out of reach of all your pets. Antifreeze may taste sweet to pets but it contains ethylene glycol which in a matter of minutes can cause permanent kidney damage if ingested even in small amounts.
>> Deicers (also known as ice melts) are used to melt ice and snow on slippery sidewalks, roadways and driveways. Salt is used often as a deicer, as it is efficient and affordable. Unfortunately, salt is very irritating to foot pads of dogs and cats. Some pets may ingest the deicer as they lick their paws, or they may eat it directly off the ground. Side effects range from drooling and diarrhea to more serious complications such as excessive thirst, fainting, seizures, comma and even death.
>> Use a salt-free deicer on your own driveway and walkways, such as Safe Paw.
>> Batteries contain corrosives. If ingested they can cause serious ulceration to the mouth, tongue and intestines.

Keep in mind that seasonal hazards may be slightly different in your area and that the best gift your can offer your pets this holiday season is good health and some extra love and attention.

Happy Holidays!

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