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Christmas Time is Here Again

Once again the Christmas season is upon us and, as we get ready for the big day, let’s take some time to consider our beloved pets and the decorations we choose for the festive season.

For those of you who are first time pet owners, the first thing you should remember is never ever use tinsel as part of your decorating scheme. Whether it’s on a Christmas tree, used as a filler in gift baskets, or tucked into bowls and dishes with twinkling lights, it’s very dangerous for both cats and dogs.  As pretty as it may be, it looks very inviting to pups, especially young ones.  Pets, both dogs and cats, find tinsel fun to play with and ultimately this leads to chewing and swallowing it.

Tinsel is made from strands of shiny plastic or metallic material and can come in long strands for hanging from the branches of Christmas trees.  It’s also made into longer ropes for decorating larger areas such as lining a bay window or making a wreath. If your pet tries to chew on tinsel, it is quite strong and difficult to chew and does not break down in the intestinal tract. It can also become lodged under the tongue or, if ingested, can get stuck in the stomach or intestines and can cause an obstruction or cut through the lining of the digestive tract.  If your pet has eaten any tinsel, you will need to see a vet as soon as possible to determine where the tinsel is in the system and have it removed.

When decorating your Christmas tree, you also need to be careful about hanging ornaments close to the bottom of the tree where mischievous pups can grab them.  You must be extremely careful of glass ornaments that could break and shatter if your pup decides to treat it like a ball. And please do not put candy canes or foil wrapped chocolate balls or Santa’s on your tree.

One other thing to be mindful of is the electrical connections.  Be sure that they are not easily accessible to your pets and that there is no way your pup could pull or chew on an electrical cord.  Also, never leave your Christmas tree lit up if you leave your pup home alone.

Besides all the temptations to our pets on and under a Christmas tree, we should also be very cautious that your furry friend cannot get to your holiday plants.  Poinsettia, Mistletoe, Holly, Amaryllis, Lily, and Christmas cactus are all toxic to both dogs and cats if they chew on the leaves, berries, buds or flowers. Of all of these, the Christmas cactus is the least toxic but if your pet chews on the leaves, it will cause a lot of stomach irritation and upset to both dogs and cats, but is not deemed toxic.

During the Christmas season, it’s quite probable that there will be get togethers with family and friends and food is always a big part of it.  The most popular item at any gathering, of course, is chocolate, and this is highly toxic to dogs, even in small amounts, and can cause serious illness.

You also need to be careful that your pets cannot reach or get to any Macadamia nuts or Walnuts. Besides these items which are often in small bowls or easily dropped on the floor, you need to be careful of milk and dairy products, Cranberry sauce, onions, garlic, all bulb vegetables, and all foods containing grapes, raisins and currants, such as cakes, breads and cookies. 

Also be careful that your pet cannot get to any alcoholic drinks or baked items that contain alcohol such as rum soaked Christmas cake and pudding.

Over the holiday season, avoid feeding your pets any fatty foods such as gravy or other rich sauces or chicken or turkey skin. Although delicious, these fatty foods can cause pancreatitis in dogs which is serious and requires immediate vet attention.  If you really want to give your pup a special treat for Christmas, give him a small piece of turkey, preferably white meat, with a few green beans or carrots, no salt or gravy added.

Christmas is a great time of year and is meant to be fun filled but it can also be stressful, not just for us, but for our pets.  So try to have items prepared well in advance so you are not stressed and don’t have time to spend with your pets.  Also, if your pup is nervous of a lot of noise and excitement or leery of meeting new people, be sure that he is safely in his crate with a toy or chew treat or in a closed room where he will feel safe and secure.

So be careful and you will be able to enjoy the season.

Merry Christmas to all and best wishes for the upcoming New Year.


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