How to keep your pets safe during the holidays

Posted at 8:15 AM, Dec 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-01 08:15:52-05

While you work to deck the halls for the holidays, be sure to keep your pets in mind. While decorations make the season more festive, some can also pose a threat to the health of your four-legged friends.

Poinsettias are pretty, but they can cause stomach problems if your dog or cat eats them. "The milky sap is irritating and can cause some hives, but they're really not too poisonous," said Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald with the VCA Alamaeda East Veterinary Hospital. Pets can also get sick if they eat pine tree needles. But the plants you really need to watch out for are holly, lilies, and mistletoe. They are toxic to pets and can cause severe damage.

As for baking, we know chocolate can be deadly to animals, but experts warn you also need to keep them away from the cookie dough. "If they eat enough of that and it sits in the stomach it can be very discomforting and sometimes [require] surgery," said Dr. Fitzgerald.

When decorating the tree, veterinarians suggest skipping the tinsel. Cats love it, but it can cause problems if they eat it. You also need to make sure your tree is weighed down so curious pets don't knock it over. To keep your ornaments from becoming bite-sized snacks experts recommend placing them high up on the tree. With fragile ornaments, fasten them tightly so they don't fall and get eaten after they shatter.

Also keep a close eye on power cords. This time of year you have lights on the tree and maybe outside, with extension cords running through the house. Be sure to tape or tie the cords down, so dogs and cats won't be tempted to chew on them or get tangled in them. "A little common sense goes a long way. if the people can think like a pet, the new Christmas puppy, teething puppies with the electrical wire, they're a teether, here's his chew toy," said Dr. Fitzgerald.