Christmas is approaching. Hurrah! Many of our households will soon fill with beautiful decorations and delicious treats as we prepare to celebrate the festive season. But there are potential perils for our pets in amongst the Christmas trimmings. This is the first in a series of three articles, which will identify the common holiday hazards for pets. They will also have plenty of tips on how to keep your furry friends safe and well … because the last thing anyone wants for Christmas is an emergency trip to the vet!
Hazard #1: The Christmas Tree
The risks: Injury to your pet if it falls (any tree); stomach upsets if pine needles are eaten or if the tree water is drunk (live trees).
Top tips: Make sure your tree is securely anchored, clean up any needles as they fall, and wherever possible block off your pet’s access to the tree (for example with a pet fence or gate).
Hazard #2: Tinsel and other string like decorations
The risks: Cats and kittens love playing with tinsel, but if any is swallowed it acts as a linear foreign body and can cause serious damage to the intestines.
Top tips: Use other types of decorations, or ensure that any furry friends are unable to reach the tinsel by placing it up high or blocking off access.
Hazard #3: Ornaments
The risks: Fragile ornaments can cause injury if they break, small ornaments can cause an intestinal obstruction if swallowed, salt-dough ornaments can cause salt toxicity if eaten.
Top tips: Either avoid fragile, small and salt-dough ornaments; or make sure they are hung up high, out of reach of any pets. It is also good to provide plenty of pet-safe toys for your furry friend so that they are less inclined to try and steal a toy off your Christmas tree.
Hazard #4: Power cords
The risks: Electrocution or burns if the cords are chewed.
Top tips: Keep cords neat and tidy and tucked out of reach of your pets. Cord protectors are a good idea, particularly if there are any chewy puppies in the household.
Hazard #5: Holly, mistletoe, lilies and ponsettias
The risks: All of these plants are potentially toxic if ingested by your pet.
Top tips: Avoid having these plants inside, or make sure that your pet cannot access them. If you have other plants around that you are not sure about, then check with your vet or contact Animal Poisons Australia (https://animalpoisons.com.au/) for advice.
Hazard #6: Candles
The risks: Airway irritation, burns and fires
Top tips: Use alternatives like battery powered tea-light candles or LED candles. If using real candles, try to choose pet-safe options (avoid those with a paraffin base), keep candles out of reach of your pets, and use protective candle holders.
Disclaimer: The information and advice in this post is general in nature. It is not intended as a substitute for tailored health care advice from your regular veterinarian.