Holiday Decoration Dilemma!
Holiday decoration dilemma! Make sure your pet doesn’t get hurt with help from veterinary doctor, Dr. Christian Mercier.
Holiday Decoration Dilemma!
The days have gotten shorter and night falls earlier. This always feels strange… but then December comes and houses start to twinkle with Christmas lights and decorations. We see them in windows and on trees: silver and gold, multi-coloured, tinsel, ribbons, figurines… all sorts of Holiday sparkle. Children are thrilled and pets are super excited by all the hoopla as well. Sorry to have to say it: Warning! Danger!
We consulted with Dr. Christian Mercier, veterinary doctor at the Grand-Mère veterinary clinic in Shawinigan, to talk about the dangers of Christmas decorations for cats and dogs. We also asked Dr. Mercier about any precautions that should be taken. “As we know, cats tend to climb Christmas trees,” he said. “Therefore, we recommend attaching Christmas trees to hooks in the ceiling.”
Although it’s difficult to prevent cats from launching themselves at trees, motion detectors that emit sounds might deter your pet. Another tip from Dr. Mercier: don’t put your tree up near a table or couch. Both can act as makeshift springboards.
Christmas icicles and tinsel aren’t as popular as they used to be, but we still do find them in homes and they are a hazard because they are big, and in the case of tinsel, they go on forever and fray a lot. “Cats like to chew on these decorations,” says Dr. Mercier. “But unfortunately, if they swallow some of it, the contraction of the esophagus will cause the entire filament to enter the digestive tract. And that can do serious damage to the intestine. There’s even a risk of obstruction and perforation that can be life threatening. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you simply avoid these types of decorations if you have an animal in the house.”
As for small decorative electric Christmas lights, you can install them, turn them on and off… but keep a watchful eye. When you’re not at home, it’s best to turn them off to reduce the risk of electric shock.
Plants are lovely… but they can also be toxic!
Small objects and the magnificent Christmas tree are not the only sources of danger for your pet during the Holidays. Some plants, such as the poinsettia whose red, white or pink bracts (leaves) are undoubtedly magnificent… are also completely toxic! If your dog or cat chews on them—and/or some of the flower’s sap—they’ll develop significant digestive problems. Your pet will start to salivate and have vomiting and diarrhea. The same goes for all other Holiday plants, including mistletoe and holly. “Some plants can cause neurological or respiratory problems and can even be fatal,” says Dr. Mercier.
The risks are real and accidents are frequent.
Absorption of foreign bodies is one of the most frequently reported accidents in veterinary clinics during the Holiday season, says Dr. Mercier. Fragile decorations break. Your pet plays with the pieces lying on the floor and swallows some of them. And so the problems begin. “Every year, I find metal hooks, Christmas balls or other foreign objects such as decorative icicles in cat intestines.”
Nor should we forget the dangers posed by gifts and giftwrap. “Ribbons, bows and all the other accessories that go with wrapping up presents can attract cats. Cats might then chew and swallow them. It is highly recommended, according to Dr. Mercier, to keep a garbage bag on hand, and fill it as gifts are unwrapped. That way, you won’t have any of this stuff lying around. Don’t wait until later—or the next morning—or you may end up with a few nasty surprises!