The winter holiday season is a time of giving and joy for many families.

But for pets, there are some dangers associated with holiday traditions if pet owners don’t take precautions to ensure their pets’ safety.

Holiday decorations

Much like toddlers, pets are attracted to bright lights, shining ornaments and dangling tinsel, so many holiday decorations can be hazardous to pets.

Keep these decoration safety tips in mind:

  • Christmas trees add beauty to the home, but pine tree water can be poisonous, so it is best to use an enclosed tree stand. Make sure that the tree is secured to the wall with strong wire or twine, because a toppling tree can cause serious injuries to dogs and cats.
  • Ornaments and hooks, twinkling lights and electrical wiring pose significant danger to pets by ingestion or contact. When no one will be around to supervise, unplug lights and any electrical decorations a pet has access to. Cover or tack down electrical cords.
  • To avoid pets being burned or causing a fire hazard, make sure that pets are confined away from any room containing a lit Hanukkah menorah or holiday candle.
  • Keep holiday game pieces, such as the dreidel, out of paw’s reach from pets to avoid accidental ingestion.
  • Holiday plants that are poisonous to pets include the berries of the mistletoe, holly, hibiscus, Christmas roses and the poinsettia. Keep these plants out of pets’ reach.

Holiday foods

Food is another culprit for some of the most common holiday pet emergencies. Be cautious of the following:

  • Dark and baker’s chocolate. While milk chocolate is not poisonous, it will cause a pet to have an upset stomach. On the other hand, dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate contain high levels of theobromine and caffeine. Animals are extremely sensitive to both, and ingesting either type of chocolate could be fatal.
  • Chocolate gold coins. These treats—sometimes used in Hanukkah and Christmas traditions—should be kept in a location that cannot be accessed by pets. Not only do the chocolate coins contain theobromine and caffeine, but the shiny foil wrappers can also cause intestinal issues if digested.
  • Xylitol. This sugar substitute causes a dog’s blood sugar to drop quickly. This poisoning can be treated, but causes liver failure if not treated properly.
  • Macadamia nuts. Dogs experience severe weakness in their back legs, appearing paralyzed, after ingesting macadamia nuts. Dogs usually recover from this condition within three days.
  • Bread dough. When bread dough is ingested it continues to rise, causing an intestinal blockage.
  • Latkes and sufganiyot. For pets, ingestion of these Hanukkah treats could result in a variety of gastrointestinal issues, including vomiting and diarrhea. Also, some ingredients can have even more dangerous consequences. The onions in latkes, for example, can cause Heinz body anemia in both cats and dogs.

If a pet ingests any potentially harmful product, call a veterinarian immediately Smith’s Veterinary Hospital 505-982-4418. Urgent Care Weekdays 6 pm – 10 pm; Holiday Hours: Christmas Eve 8 AM – 12 PM Christmas Day CLOSED.  New Year’s Eve 8 AM – 12 PM / New Year’s Day CLOSED

or Santa Fe Animal Emergency Hospital 505-984-0625,  2001 Vivigen Way, Santa Fe.

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