The fall and winter holidays are here again, times of the year when we often change up our routines with extra visits from friends and family, and along for the ride come foods, treats, and appealing decorations, packages and gifts. Sometimes, these can be a hazard to our family pets. Hopefully, you and your pets have made it through Halloween and Thanksgiving unscathed.
There are many resources out there which talk about holiday hazards. Many foods are hazardous to dogs, either because they are toxic (such as chocolate or grapes), or can harm their digestive tract (bones, or food packaging, or bread dough), or for other reasons. Check out this ASPCA link for more: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets. Other hazards can be unexpected. The puppy chews an extension cord for the holiday lights. A house cat sneaks outside and gets lost when the front door is left open by a guest. Or medication is left open in a bedroom and ingested by the dog. Even sugar-free gum or candies laid down by a guest on a night table can be dangerous to dogs due to the ingredient xylitol. Cats are at risk for eating shiny tinsel or other ribbons they play with, resulting in a serious intestinal foreign body obstruction. Similarly, some fun new toy or fabric ingested by the dog can also result in an obstruction. Decorative plants can cause gastrointestinal upset or even death when ingested– keep lillies, daffodils, amarillys, holly and mistletoe out of pets’ reach. Poinsettia is not very toxic, but its leaves are irritating to the mouth tissue, and will cause gastrointestinal upset if ingested in large amounts. Sadly, our dogs and cats can find many ways of getting themselves into trouble.
I learned along the way that Christmas gifts under the tree can be tempting to dogs. A gift sent from my mother who lives in another state was helpfully opened one night by our old dog, Sadie. She also helpfully sorted through the clothing to find the small box of chocolates (gone but for the leftover box) and a bag of coffee. Sadie wasn’t a coffee drinker: after chewing open the package she decided it wasn’t for her and left us the rest.
A few years later, our dog Clementine had her own Christmas fun. I had ordered some baking supplies from King Arthur and had the large shipping box in my dining room. I knew there wasn’t anything in it to tempt Sadie’s nose, and Clemmie had never been one to chew on packages. But my mother, who was visiting, was the first one up the next morning and thought it had snowed inside my house. Of the 4 bags of flour inside the (sealed) box, all but one had been opened and scattered. Clemmie the black lab had a very suspicious white face. So much for the sale price of King Arthur flour.
This year, we have a 5 month old kitten, Blinky. Although she has only one eye, she is a fearsome stalker, and everything in our home is fair game. It has been many years since I’ve raised a kitten, and have always been lucky that my cats allowed me to ‘train’ them not to damage most of my possessions. Blinky is a bit of a challenge, she is very persistent when she wants something. I am still deciding if it is wise to give her a Christmas tree of her own to climb and attack. If I do, we won’t put any ornaments on it that I would be sad to lose.
We hope that you and yours have happy and safe holidays.