Avoiding Common Hazards: By Loren Harrington

We all know how busy the holiday season can be. I would like to give you a few helpful tips in order to make sure your pet friends stay safe over the holiday season and not end up in an emergency hospital.

Ribbon & Tinsel

There is just something about tinsel that drives a cat crazy.  Although it can be so cute to see your cat playing around, ingestion of tinsel can be deadly. Eating string like objects (tinsel and ribbon) can cause damage to the intestine.  One end can get stuck while the rest is pulled into the intestines as it contracts and it can cause the tinsel to saw through the intestine or become tangled in the intestines.  If not caught in time they can get an infection in the abdomen, and the prognosis is poor.  Signs your pet as ingested a linear foreign body can progress quickly with vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and depression. They can also ingest other decorations as well that can get stuck in the intestinal track.  Surgery is usually required for removal of the object if it does not pass on its own.


Each year check your Christmas lights to ensure there are no defects in the cord.  Your pet can get an electrical shock from chewing on cords.  Examine daily for bite marks, frayed wires, how close the cord is to the tree’s water supply, or any signs of short circuits. Call your Bradford Veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has received an electrical shock. Taping down cords and making sure they are unplugged when you are not home may avoid an accident.

Tree Water

If you are adding chemicals to your tree water to make it stay fresher longer, read the package to see if it is safe for pets. As ingestion of these chemicals can make your pet sick and will require a trip to an emergency clinic.

Feeding Your Pet Holiday Snacks

Pets ingesting certain kinds of food can make them very sick or even worse they can get pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is usually caused by eating fatty foods. Fatty meats, gravies, poultry bones and skin, chocolate, and alcohol are all dangerous for your pet. If guests want to give your pet a treat please offer their normal treats as I am sure they will be just as happy.

Holiday Plants

  • Who doesn’t have a beautiful ponsettia in their house over the holidays?  Remember as beautiful as they are they can be toxic if ingested by your pet.
  • Mistletoe can also be very toxic; you should contact your vet immediately if you think or know your pet as ingested mistletoe.  Signs include vomiting, diarrhea diffculty breathing, shock and even death.

Other Tips

  • Watch small pieces of toys
  • Anchor Christmas trees down, to avoid falls on your pet
  • Pine needles can also puncture the intestine if ingested
  • Snow globes may contain anti-freeze. Make sure anti-freeze is stored properly. Ensure there are no leaks from vehicles as it is sweet tasting and pets will lick it off the pavement. There are also pet-safe anti-freeze products available.

Giving a New Pet as a Gift

Who wouldn’t love a cute puppy or a sweet little kitten as a gift for Christmas?  Please ensure the person whom you are giving it to knows and understands the long term care and responsibility of a pet.  Population of shelters is high after the holiday season because people are returning their gift as they are unable to look after it.

Hopefully these tips will help keep the holiday home extra safe for your pet.  Who wants to end up in an emergency hospital?  Most situations are avoidable if you take extra care of pet proofing your home.  I wish all of you a very safe Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.