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Holiday Pet Safety

tabby cat sitting in branches of Christmas tree, surrounded by red balls and bowsIf you’re like me, you adore furry friends. Amid the hustle-bustle of the holidays it’s easy to overlook or forget precautions related to their safety. As a cat owner for years, I know my felines loved glittery Christmas balls, bows, ribbons and wrapping paper. It’s one matter for frisky felines to “sled” across the carpet on a piece of wrapping paper, another to bat a glass ornament until it falls and shatters, creating a safety hazard for soft paws. To help keep your cats and dogs safe, here are some handy tips to remember when preparing for the holiday season:

Christmas Trees
Anchor your tree securely so it can’t tip or fall. Cats naturally like to climb, so if you introduce a real tree to your home, be extra aware you may have a curious feline climber on your hands.

Keep animals away from tree water. Many trees are sprayed with fire retardants and other chemicals that can cause stomach upset for your pet. Also remember that standing tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria when stagnant. Be sure to keep the water fresh and also covered so pets aren’t tempted to “taste test.”

Clean up any pine needles around the base of the tree. If ingested, these can puncture the stomach and intestines.

black and white cat being hugged by a stuffed toy reindeeerDecorations
If you’re a cat owner, tinsel is a huge no-no. While it might look festive on the tree, kitties are unable to resist those shiny dangling strings. Batting and nibbling can lead to chewing and swallowing, which is certain to result in an obstructed digestive track. Severe vomiting, dehydration, and emergency surgery are complications no pet owner wants to face during the merriment of the holidays.

Keep glass decorations away from low hanging branches where a dog’s wagging tail or frisky feline paws may cause them to fall and shatter. Make sure electrical wires are secure and out of chewing range.

Gift Wrap
Like tinsel, ribbons hold tempting appeal for cats and thus present the same hazards. Dogs will sometimes chew on wrapping paper which can cause stomach upset and even intestinal blockage. Both cats and dogs may enjoy batting or nosing around a bow, but remember a bow is really just a long piece of ribbon, so stay alert if your pet decides to make one into a toy.

Holiday Foods
Chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs, while rich fatty foods and spicy foods can cause everything from stomach upset to diarrhea. Other foods such as nuts and grapes can cause problems ranging from mild digestive issues to complete organ failure. Be especially conscious of uncooked cookie dough which can expand in your pet’s stomach causing gas, bloating and severe pain. If you set dough out to rise, be sure to keep your pets out of the room.

When guests visit for the holidays, you may want to tell them not to give your pets any “people treats” no matter how adorable they may appear when begging for the same!

Holiday Plants
If you have pets, it’s probably safest to skip live plants altogether. Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, and certain varieties of lilies all pose danger for dogs and cats. With varying toxicity levels that may cause stomach upset, diarrhea, or even kidney failure (in the case of many lilies), you’re better off sticking with the silk variety when it comes to plants.

Be sure to keep lighted candles up and away from pets where they can’t be knocked over. And remember that cats—being cats—will climb and seek higher perches, so don’t leave candles unattended.

A Pet Retreat
Finally, be sure your pet has a quiet place where they can retreat when the festivities become too much. Set fresh water out and something warm for them to snuggle in. Not all pets are social creatures. Older and shy animals may prefer withdrawing to a safe, less noisy place until the celebrations are over.

By sticking to these few simple tips, you can ensure a merry holiday for everyone, including your furry friends!

Candy Ortenzio
Executive Administrator
Brownstone Real Estate Co.