5 Tips On keeping Your Pet Safe This Christmas
The holidays are here, and while people are celebrating, the season can be a minefield of health hazards for pets.
If you don’t manage to keep chocolate, ornaments, tinsel and mistletoe out of your pets’ mouths, then you could spend part of your holidays in the vet’s office with your furry friends, says veterinarian Robert Lachapelle.
But with some careful preparation, it’s possible to have a stress-free holiday both for you — and your pet.
Dr. Lachapelle shared his tips with CBC Quebec’s Breakaway:
1. Minimize stress for your dog when guests arrive
If you’re having lots of visitors, they’ll likely arrive one after another. Frequently knocking can stress your pup out.
“Your dog is barking and barking and barking every time the doorbell rings,” said Lachappelle. “That’s a stressful event right there. The cat is probably hiding upstairs under the bed. The anxiety generated just by having a party and having people over… we don’t realize it.”
If possible, train dogs to sit and stay when the doorbell rings. That way, once people have taken their coats off and settled in, the dog can greet people quietly.
If that’s not possible, consider putting your dog in its crate, or in a smaller room while guests arrive. Once everyone is in your home, your dog can meet the entire group.
Lachapelle said that will give your dog some down time and reduce the stress of constantly meeting new people.
2. Don’t feed your pooch human food
Food is one of the main concerns for dogs during the holiday season.
“Food during the festive season is always rich. It’s usually very fatty — a good contributing factor for dogs to develop pancreatitis. We always see this, at least a couple of cases during the holidays,” Lachapelle said.
Pancreatitis can cause a sore abdomen, vomiting, diarrhea and fever for your pup. It could mean a trip to the vet.
Avoid this problem by not feeding your dog table food. Be blunt: tell your guests that it’ll make the dog sick.
3. Chocolate is tasty for people, bad for dogs
In fact, it can be deadly. Lachapelle says different chocolates have different levels of toxicity for dogs, so be sure it’s out of reach.
The smaller the dog, the higher the risk, depending on the type of chocolate.
Online calculators can help owners measure levels of toxicity.
4. Cats vs. tinsel
“Cats just love tinsel,” said Lachapelle, but the shimmery decoration is prone to getting stuck in the cat’s gastro-intestinal tract. That requires an emergency surgery which can be quite pricey.
Lachapelle recommends simply avoiding tinsel on trees if you’re a cat owner. He also said garland or ribbon can pose risks for felines.
5. Festive flowers can be fatal
Poinsettas are not great. Mistletoe is bad. Lillies can be deadly.
Lachapelle said young kittens are more likely to eat plants because they don’t know they’re poisonous.
The flowers cause the backs of cats’ throats to become swollen, and cal also cause irritation in the esophagus and the gastro-intestinal tract.
Pay special attention to:
- The manger in nativity scenes. Dogs love to chew on small figurines, so put them away. This rule also applies to small toys and ornaments.
- Christmas lights. Some lights contain methylene chloride, said Lachapelle. The product is toxic for animals so don’t allow your pets to eat them.
- Snow globes. This holiday favourite contains ethylene glycol. Lachapelle said the chemical has a sweet taste and may attract animals, but it’s toxic. If your animal ingests some, it can cause renal failure.