From our partners at realtor.com
The holidays are a happy time you spend with family — and that usually includes furry, four-legged members, too! But get ready for a Yuletide bummer: You might not realize that many of your most cherished holiday traditions could actually harm your pets. Yikes!
If you have a dog and want to keep him safe this holiday season, heed this list of items that could pose problems for your dog. Act wisely: This can be a scary time of year for those family members with wet noses or covered with hair. And for your dogs, too!
Poinsettias and lilies are some of the most common holiday housewarming gifts, but if you have cats or dogs that love to munch on houseplants, beware.
"The acrid milky sap inside the leaves of poinsettias could upset your pet's stomach, inducing nausea or vomiting," says Dr. Justine Lee, an emergency critical care veterinary specialist. Worse yet, "lilies are deadly to cats. Even if they eat two or three leaves or drink the water from the vase, lilies could cause your cat to suffer kidney injury that could land them in the hospital or worse."
The plant hazards don't end there either. Mistletoe is also poisonous, and holly and pine needles, while not poisonous, are sharp enough to cause a different kind of damage.
"They can irritate your pet's tongues, paws, and intestines," says Dr. Carol Osborne, an integrative veterinarian.
If you're hosting a holiday party, try to keep your pets away from the punch bowl, and make sure no glasses or even a rum cake are left unattended
Their kidneys — which are unaccustomed to alcohol — can't easily filter the stuff; the consequences can range from weakened motor functions to more dangerous effects such as kidney failure, heart failure, or coma.
Your dog might be a chewer, which is why vets agree that tinsel on your tree is a no-no. Your cat fumbling with a ball of tinsel might sound cute, but if it's swallowed it can get wrapped in your cat's intestines and obstruct the digestive tract, which could lead to severe vomiting, dehydration, or even abdominal surgery.
"The same goes for ribbon and yarn," says Lee. To avoid a trip to the veterinary ER, skip the stringy decorations this year. Instead, opt for silver ornaments or else hang tinsel only on the high boughs your dog can't reach.
Toppling Christmas Trees
It's fun to yell "timber!" when you chop down your Christmas tree, but once it's inside your home, you want it to stay upright — which can be challenging if your dog thinks it's fun to play with. A tree placed within paw's reach has the potential to tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet, not to mention a huge mess.
Make sure your tree is securely anchored in a stand that doesn't wobble. For households with particularly energetic pets, Osborne suggests using clear fishing line to keep the tree upright by connecting it from the trunk to a hook in your wall or ceiling. It's also wise to sweep or vacuum around the perimeter to get rid of pine needles and any any bugs that might have hitched a ride in on your tree.
The number 1 reason Lee sees dogs in the ER during the holidays is chocolate poisoning. And the more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic it can be.
"Anything from chocolate-covered macadamia nuts to chocolate from an advent calendar can be harmful," Lee warns. "But if your dog ingests unsweetened or semisweet baker's chocolate or dark chocolate, there could be deadly consequences."
The chemical toxicity is due to methylxanthines (a relative of caffeine) and results in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and possibly death.
When baking with chocolate this winter, it's a good idea to crate your dog until everything is cleaned up. If you believe your dog ate chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately and/or call the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680) for advice.
By: Natalie Way
Want more information on living with pets in your home? Get tips here.