Christmas is a time of joy, gifts, and glittering decorations. But it also brings a sleigh-load of hazards that could dampen the holiday spirit for our furry friends. From the tempting flicker of fairy lights to the tantalising aroma of chocolate treats, dangers lurk in every corner of the holiday-decorated home. This season, let’s not forget to safeguard the wellbeing of our beloved pets. Awareness and precaution can ensure that the festive season is a delightful and safe time for every member of the family, paws included.
Christmas Lights and Pet Safety
The twinkling allure of Christmas lights can capture the wonder of any beholder, and pets are most certainly not excluded. However, Christmas lights present a shocking risk to curious pets. Chewing on electrical cords can lead to burns, shocks, or worse. To prevent any pet-related power outages or emergencies, pet owners should keep cords out of reach or invest in cord protectors. Consider using battery-operated lights and turning lights off when not in the room to reduce the risk of electric shock and keep your pet’s playground free from tangled hazards.
Christmas Trees and Pets: A Prickly Danger
Navigating the festive season with pets means ensuring the safety of your Christmas decorations, especially when it comes to choosing between real and artificial trees. With a little planning, your Christmas tree can be a safe centrepiece that sparkles with joy, not danger, for your four-legged family members.
Real Christmas Trees
Real Christmas tree brings the authentic feel of the holidays into your home but can be risky for pets. The oils in pine needles can irritate your pet’s mouth, leading to excessive drooling or vomiting if they chew on them. The sharp needles can also cause discomfort if they prick your pet’s paws or, worse, get ingested, potentially leading to digestive blockages. To keep your pets safe, make sure to keep an eye on fallen needles and ensure your pet doesn’t treat them as a snack.
Artificial Christmas trees eliminate the risk of toxic needles but introduce other dangers. Pets may be tempted to chew on the plastic branches, which can lead to intestinal damage if swallowed. These trees also tend to be lighter and less stable, posing a risk of falling over if a pet, especially a large or active one, bumps into or climbs on them. To keep your artificial tree pet-safe, secure it firmly and keep chewable decorations out of reach.
Tinsel: A Sparkling Threat
Cats love to pounce on and play with these glittering strands, which can lead to accidental ingestion and a potential veterinary emergency. If swallowed, tinsel can cause intestinal blockages, often requiring surgery. To maintain the festive flair without the danger, consider pet-safe alternatives like paper decorations or unbreakable baubles. These options can keep your home looking festive and your pets safe, letting everyone have a sparkling holiday season.
Poinsettias, Mistletoe, and Holly: Festive but Fatal
While poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly add a touch of traditional charm to holiday decor, they can be a silent threat to pets. When nibbled on by curious pets, these plants can cause a range of symptoms from mild nausea to severe kidney failure. It’s best to keep these plants well out of reach or opt for artificial versions that offer the same festive look without the risk. If you suspect your pet has ingested any part of these plants, contact your vet immediately.
Navigating Festive Feasts: Keeping Pets Safe from Human Foods
The holiday season brings with it a bounty of joy, laughter, and a range of delicious foods that, while delightful for humans, can pose serious health risks to our pets. As pet owners, it’s crucial to navigate the festive feasts with caution, ensuring our furry friends aren’t exposed to foods that could harm them.
Foods to Avoid for Pet Safety
Christmas season is notorious for an abundance of food, but not all festive treats are safe for pets. Mince pies and fruit cakes, for instance, often contain raisins or sultanas, which are highly toxic to dogs and cats. Alcoholic beverages and foods containing alcohol can also be extremely dangerous for pets, leading to a range of serious health issues. Other dangerous foods include raw meat and raw eggs, which can contain salmonella, as well as yeast dough, which can expand in your pet’s stomach.
When the feast is over, and the table scraps tempt you to treat your pet, also remember: cooked bones are a no-go. They can splinter and cause choking or serious damage to your pet’s mouth, throat, or insides. If you suspect your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have, seek veterinary care immediately. Remember, prevention is the best cure, so keep those festive foods out of reach.
Why Chocolate and Pets Don’t Mix
For many, it’s not Christmas without the rich, indulgent taste of chocolate. Yet, for our pets, this sweet delight is a forbidden fruit. Chocolate contains theobromine, a toxic substance that can cause kidney failure in dogs and cats. The darker the chocolate, the greater the danger, with even small amounts potentially leading to serious health issues. Instead of sharing your chocolate decorations, why not spoil your pet with their own festive dog food or cat treats? There are plenty of pet-safe recipes and products that can let them join in the feasting fun without the risk.
Stick to Pet-Friendly Treats to Prevent Pancreatitis
The holiday season is often laden with rich, fatty foods that can be hard for pets to resist but can trigger pancreatitis, a painful and potentially life-threatening condition. Pancreatitis occurs when a pet’s digestive system becomes inflamed, often due to high-fat meals. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and abdominal pain. To keep your pet safe, stick to their regular food, and resist the urge to share your holiday ham or roast. If you want to treat your pet, choose low-fat, pet-specific treats or a bit of plain, cooked turkey without the skin.
Liquid Potpourri and Other Scented Hazards
The warm, spicy scent of liquid potpourri can evoke the essence of Christmas, but it’s a hidden danger to pets. These fragrant concoctions, when spilled, can burn a pet’s skin or the lining of their mouth and digestive system. Moreover, the ingestion of certain essential oils found in diffusers and potpourri can lead to serious health issues, including liver damage and central nervous system problems. Instead, choose pet-safe ways to spread holiday cheer with scents. Natural orange slices with cloves or a cinnamon stick simmering in water can fill your home with a festive aroma, ensuring it’s safe for all family members—your furry friend included.
House Visitors and Pet Stress
A full house during the holidays can be overwhelming for pets, leading to increased anxiety and stress. The constant chatter, loud noises, and new faces can unsettle even the most sociable pets. To help your pet cope, create a quiet, safe space where they can retreat from the hustle and bustle. This area should be equipped with their bed, toys, and water, and be off-limits to guests. By providing a sanctuary, you help ensure your pet feels safe and secure despite the festive chaos. You can learn more in our blogs about general pet advice.
The Benefits of Pet Insurance
With all the potential hazards that come with the holiday season, pet insurance can be a lifesaver. It not only helps cover unexpected veterinary costs due to accidents or illnesses but also encourages owners to seek prompt medical attention for their pets.
Petinsurance.com.au is issued by The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd ABN 78 090 584 473, AFSL 241436, is arranged and administered by PetSure (Australia) Pty Ltd ABN 95 075 949 923, AFSL 420183 (PetSure) and is promoted and distributed by PetSure’s Authorised Representatives (AR) Pet Insurance Pty Ltd ABN 38 607 160 930, AR 1234944 (PIPL) and Gumtree AU Pty Ltd ABN 33 616 996 840, AR 1304608. Any advice provided is general only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. Please consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to ensure this product meets your needs before purchasing. PDS and Target Market Determination available at petinsurance.com.au.