When pets are around be safe with decorations

We decorated our Christmas tree the other day our cat, “Emmett” is more excited than my kids – he likes to play with all the ornaments and even chewed on a garland! My friend said I should never use tinsel – is there anything that we need to be concerned about?

The holiday season is not only a fun and festive time for people, but it is a fun time for pets too! The hustle and bustle around the house, as people make preparations for Christmas can be a very exciting for animals. The Christmas tree can especially be of interest to pets that may think that the ornaments, tinsel, garland and even the tree itself are fun to eat or play with. Having said this, these decorations can present as serious hazards and precautions should be taken to ensure that your house is safe for your furry friends.

Ribbons, tinsel and garland can be very appealing since they are fun to pounce on and chase. However, if these stringy decorations are swallowed they can get caught in the gastrointestinal tract. As the body tries to move the linear foreign body through, it can cause a bunching up of the intestines that can be life threatening. Without surgery to remove the object, the cat will almost certainly die. Cats should always be supervised when playing with string like decorations. Avoiding the use of tinsel all together is the best idea.

Other decorations that are tempting to play with and potentially harmful (such as glass balls or sharp pointed ornaments) should be placed high up on the tree out of reach to the curious critters.

Animals aren’t generally interested in the Christmas tree lights, however the electrical cord for the lights can be fun to chew or play with especially for young animals that are teething. If a pet bites the light cord, it could cause a severe burn to the tongue and mouth and sometimes can even result in respiratory distress. Keep cords away from pets or cover them with electrical tape.

Some people like to hang little chocolates or candy canes on their trees. Although they are tasty and decorative, the chocolates especially can be deadly to dogs. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine that can not be processed properly in dogs. Ingestion of even a small amount can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperexcitability, nervousness and even death. Pure baking chocolate (450mg/ounce) has a lot more of the chemical than milk chocolate (60mg/ounce), but it is best to avoid access to chocolate altogether.

We hope that these common sense tips will help you keep little “Emmett” safe and healthy over the holidays – Season’s Greetings!

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