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The holiday season is such a joyous time. The weather is crisp and the wonderful feeling of giving is in the air. As you scurry about for those last minute gifts and diligently decorate your homes, don’t forget to consider your pets and how this busy season can affect them.

North Shore Animal League America would like to offer some helpful hints to keep your holiday hazard-free!

Christmas trees can be problematic for pets. If your tree is not secured properly, a curious kitty or peeping pooch can knock it over. Pine needles are also dangerous if swallowed. Pine needles can be sharp and have the potential to puncture intestines. If you see your pet dining on the Christmas tree, seek immediate veterinary care.

A new water source can be inifinately tempting to a pet regardless of how much liquid is in their water bowls. Water from your holiday tree is no exception, but can contain harmful fertilizers, tree preservatives, sap, bacteria and mold. Be sure to cover this water to keep your pet away and avoid serious stomach upset or worse.

Tinsel is a huge temptation for our pets – especially cats. They often cannot resist its shimmering allure. However, ingesting tinsel or ribbons can not only lead to tummy aches for your feline friend, but it can get wrapped around our pets’ intestines causing major health problems which may require surgical intervention. Wrapping paper and glass ornaments may also pose threats. While these holiday traditions may be festive for the season, if eaten, these things can cause depression, stomach upset, vomiting, or diarrhea if not naturally passed. Glass ornaments can cause internal bleeding if shards make internal cuts. So by all means keep these items out of your pets’ reach.

Holly, evergreens and mistletoe are common holiday plants that are toxic to your pets. Be aware of this and be sure to keep them far away from your pets. Poinsettia, though not truly poisonous, can cause gastric upset if its sap is ingested. Use good judgment as to where to place these plants, since parts of the plants (leaves, berries and needles) can fall off branches over time.Should you see your pet snacking on them, remove the item frm your pet's mouth and immediately contact your veterinarian to discuss any recommended emergency care.

Electrical Lights and Cords

Electrical cords are another potential holiday hazard. Pets sometimes find it appetizing to chew on them which can give them a harmful jolt, burns, abnormal heartbeat and in worse-case scenarios, death. It's best to have all cords carefully secured and out of the way of your pet.

Candles, menorahs and any open-flame objects should be kept far out of your pets’ reach and never left unattended. That tempting flicker may draw them in like a moth, putting them at risk for burns – or the worst-case scenario – knocking it over and starting a fire.

Nothing is more tempting than slipping your pet some holiday treats from the table. Remember that people food can upset your pet’s stomach and some foods can even cause major illness or death. Keep fatty foods like turkey or ham down to a minimum and totally avoid onions, onion powder, grapes, raisins and chocolate. Best rule of thumb is to keep people food for people, and if in doubt, don’t share!

The link below can be used to find recipes to make your own safe holiday pet treats for dogs and cats!


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