Christmas Time Pet Concerns

With a little extra thought, your pet can have a safe, enjoyable holiday season too!

People are busy with all sorts of activities at home, at school, at church. It's a very happy time, but it can be a confusing time for your pet, and a dangerous one too.

You probably will have a Christmas tree. Especially young puppies and kitties are attracted to it, just as you are - the bright lights and the ornaments are too hard to resist. And cats can climb right up the trunk of the tree, and when they get to the top, the tree can tip and come crashing down. Generally, as pets get older they leave the Christmas tree alone, but if you have young pets, you may want to put the tree in a baby playpen or place one of those expandable baby fences around the tree.

Especially cats, but dogs too, like to chew on cords - like the tree lights. One way to stop them from doing that is to apply some Bitter Apple (you can get it at pet stores) on the cord. They hate the way it tastes and will leave the cord alone. If you can't get Bitter Apple, Tabasco sauce can be applied to the cord. It has a really hot taste and animals don't like it. Tasting Bitter Apple or Tabasco sauce won't hurt your pet.

Those shiny narrow strips we call "icicles" are very dangerous to pets because they contain lead and can make your cat or dog very, very sick if they eat it. Because it's shiny, pets are attracted to it. It moves and they want to "get it". Once they do, they will do what comes naturally to them, and that's to eat it.

Most households have plenty of food and sweet goodies around during the holiday season. If you have company over, it's easy for plates to be held on peoples' laps, coffee tables, other pieces of furniture and even on the floor, so it's easy for pets - especially dogs - to help themselves.

Pets are always better off having pet food, but once in a while I'm sure most of us end up giving our pet a bit of a human food treat. One human food that pets should never, never have is chocolate. Chocolate contains a substance called Xanthines. It's harmless to humans, but pets don't have the ability in their bodies to break it down like we do. A 10-pound dog that eats one pound of chocolate can have a life-threatening reaction. If an animal has a reaction to chocolate, they get really excitable and restless and have muscle tremors. Then they have breathing difficulties and have seizures. It is very important to keep chocolate out of your pet's reach.

Mistletoe, holly and poinsettia plants decorate our homes during the holidays. These are poisonous plants if your pet eats them. Please keep them away from your pet. Also, aspirin used as a preservative in Christmas tree water can be fatal to cats who drink it.
With a little extra thought, your pet can have a safe, enjoyable holiday season too!