It is that time of the year again when we dig out the Christmas decorations, decorate the Christmas tree and brighten up our homes with lights, ornaments and presents. Sadly, though, we see many beloved family pets in our practice with preventable health issues.
Therefore we have put together a list of 8 hidden Christmas dangers for pets so that everyone can have a happy and safe Christmas.
1. The Christmas Tree
What we love about our pets is their boundless energy and curiosity, however, decorated Christmas trees can be an attraction to our dogs and cats. They may try to jump on it or climb it, and when not grounded properly the tree may fall over. Some pets may even chew on the tree, even if it is artificial, and the artificial material may contain toxins, or can cause intestinal obstruction when swallowed.
2. Tree ornaments and tinsel
Broken ornaments can be sharp, and cut your pet’s feet, mouth and other body parts. If chewed and swallowed, they can act as foreign bodies and lead to choking or obstruct your pet’s bowels. In the case of tinsel (and this also goes for wrapping ribbons etc.), these are “linear foreign body” obstructions. These are extremely dangerous in a short time as they don’t just obstruct and damage the intestinal tract, but through a “sawing action” they can actually cut through the gut and cause a potentially fatal septic peritonitis.
Edible chocolate ornaments can be a major attraction to our food driven pets, and chocolate is poisonous to dogs and cats as it contains theobromine!
3. Electric Christmas lights and candles
If your pet has a tendency to chew, if they chew on the electric cord it can lead to electrocution. Candles while add ambience to a room are a burning hazard, so make sure to have them where your pet can’t jump up and knock them over.
4. A Live Christmas Tree
If you chose to decorate a live Christmas tree, clean up the pine needles as soon as possible when they fall off the tree. They are indeed needle sharp and can penetrate the intestinal tract. Pine trees do contain fir oils that are irritating to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract and can cause a lot of drooling and vomiting. Also cover up the tree water dish to avoid your pet drinking the water; it can make them quite sick as well!
5. Other plants
At Christmas time we often decorate our home with plants such as holly, mistletoe, poinsettia plants, lilies and daffodils, these are all poisonous as well and should be kept well away from your pet’s reach.
6. Edible Presents
Presents under the tree could be opened before the due date by your pet, especially when edible. Some foods can cause gastrointestinal upsets or even be toxic to your pet as well, such as chocolate and certain nuts.
7. Christmas Food
For humans, a danger of Christmas lunch is ending up on the couch in a food coma, but for our pets it is a lot more serious. Access to an abundance of (fatty) foods can lead to upset stomachs or even pancreatitis and even more seriously many popular Christmas time dishes can be toxic to our pets.
8. Christmas visitors
While not so much a danger, but something to be aware of. Some pets love the extra attention visitors bring, but for other pets, having strangers around upsetting their routine and creating extra noise can be stressful. Make sure those pets have somewhere safe and quiet they can retreat to, and ask your visitors to be mindful of their needs.
With the right precautions, hopefully, everyone, human and animal, will enjoy a happy holiday season!
If you have any concerns, please contact our friendly team. The Cronulla Veterinary Clinic will only be closed on the Public Holidays, and will be opened from 9-12 noon on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
The team from Cronulla Veterinary Clinic wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!