By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The holiday season is a wonderful and exciting time for the entire family, including your furry family members. However, a sick pet can quickly bring on the bah humbug spirit if you’re not careful.
“Many families have already decked the halls with a variety of decorations and planned holiday feasts,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist
“It is important to steer pets clear of toxic plants, potentially dangerous decorations and unhealthy foods.
“For many people, the Christmas tree is the center piece of their holiday decorations. However, blinking lights and shiny ornaments can be quite enticing to your pets, especially cats.”
Peek added, “It’s a good idea to securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t fall prey to a cat attack. This will help prevent precious ornaments from being broken, as well as injury to your pet or people in your home.”
Anchoring the tree is important to prevent the tree water from spilling and being easily accessible to your pet. A possible breeding ground for bacteria, the water may contain fertilizers to extend the life of the tree. If ingested, this can be dangerous for your furry elf resulting in nausea or diarrhea.
Keep pets away from enticing strings of lights. Nibbling on or playing with a wire can deliver a potentially deadly electric shock.
Everyone loves to include their furry friends on their Santa list, but selecting the right gift is important to make sure they are pet safe.
“Avoid selecting pet toys with loose parts, ribbons or yarn,” Peek said. “These things can come off the toy and get lodged in your pet’s intestines, which will likely require surgery to remove. Instead, choose healthy foods and chewy treats that are designed to be safely digestible.”
No holiday season is complete without guests coming over to celebrate, which often means special foods and beverages.
Dr. Elisabeth Giedt, director of Continuing Education, Extension and Community Engagement at the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences at OSU said, “Chocolate, foods sweetened with xylitol, as well as fatty and spicy foods must be off limits to your pets.
“When the party is over, make sure to clean up all the dishes and put the food away. It is a good idea to take the garbage out so pets will not be tempted to dumpster dive while you are asleep. If your celebration includes adult beverages, be sure to place unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them.”
The popular Poinsettia is mildly toxic to dogs and should be displayed well out of reach. Other holiday plants such as mistletoe and holly should be used with caution.
Holly can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, while mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems.
Many people will have folks visiting for the holidays who are taking medication, Giedt recommends encouraging guests to keep all medicines zipped in their suitcase and out of reach.
Giedt points out that the Pet Poison Helpline®, petpoisonhelpline.com, has a number of recommendations for creating a hazard-free household for the holidays.
Amidst all the festivities, sometimes it is a good idea to have a room that is a guest-free area, where pets can go and relax if they are uncomfortable around a lot of people.
Peek said, “Our pets are a big part of the family and we want to include them in all of our special events. A little extra planning will help ensure both you and your pets have a safe holiday season.”