Keep both pets and your Christmas decorations safe by avoiding these seven hazards.
CAITLIN MURPHREE MILLER
If you buy a real tree, skip the tree fertilizer, and keep pets from treating the stagnant water as their personal water bowl. Got a climber on your hands? To keep your dog or cat away from the base of the tree, use crumpled-up paper, a plastic bottle filled with beans, or anything else that creates noise at the base of the tree. This trick may scare them off, or at least warn of their approach in time for you to intervene.
To protect your pet and your valuable family decorations, make sure that small or breakable ornaments are placed higher on the tree. In addition to being a choking and intestinal blockage hazards, shards from broken glass ornaments may potentially injure their little paws and mouths.
Batteries and Small Toys
Every parent knows the joy of watching kids rip into Santa’s bounty on Christmas morning—followed by an afternoon of stepping on errant Legos, stray batteries, or tiny dollhouse pieces. Pets, too, discover these items and will eat them without proper supervision. These small pieces can get stuck in their intestinal tract, a condition that requires surgical removal.
Southern grandmothers are famous for scattering bowls of bite-sized sweets around the house during the holidays. Unfortunately, this can be dangerous if you’ve got curious (or particularly agile) pets. Small hard candies are choking hazards to pets without strong teeth and jaws, and chocolate is a long-known toxin to all animals, requiring a potentially expensive emergency visit to the vet. To be safe, keep these treats out of a pet’s reach.
Serving a holiday feast to your pets will only make them sick; thus, direct your table scraps into the trash rather than their food bowl. Particularly dangerous are turkey and chicken bones—not only can these cause blockages in the intestines, but they can splinter and break, causing punctured internal organs.
Deck the halls to your heart’s content, but remember: Holly and mistletoe, both popular seasonal decorations, can cause vomiting and severe stomach upset in pets if ingested. Keep the mistletoe securely fashioned over a doorway, well out of your pet’s domain.
Keep strands of sparkling lights away from the bottom few branches of your Christmas tree, beyond the reach of your pet’s curious sniffing. Not only can pets get tangled in string lights, but these strands can give them a potentially life-threatening electrical shock if a pet bites through the wire. Tape extra lengths of electrical cord to the wall or a nearby piece of furniture.