As we loom toward Christmas, here are a few cautions where your pets are concerned with gifts and foods and activities during the holidays. Thanskgiving, Easter and Passover have the same advice for foods and house guests and doors opening to the night as well as plants and flowers, but the December holidays—Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Solstice—all have decorations and traditions that we want to preserve but which can be very dangerous to our pets.
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We bring evergreens into our homes and light candles and fireplaces to chase away the darkness of midwinter and celebrate the return of the light, and we decorate with things that bring light and color into our homes. Each December festival has its own tradition with these symbolic items and it’s wise to be aware of what dangers they may pose to our pets.
Things that come in from the outdoors perk their instincts to investigate all the scents that come in with them, and then their natural curiosity urges them to investigate further with touch and taste, the way animals always investigate their environment. We don’t need to rid our homes of everything, but knowledge of both the dangers our traditions may pose and our pets’ inclination to enjoy our festivities on their own terms can help to keep them safe and healthy.
How did our pets survive before we knew all these cautions about which foods and plants were truly toxic and exactly what a length of curling ribbon could do to their intestines? At one time we thought nibbling just a bit of poinsettia leaf would kill our cats and dogs, but we’ve since learned that, unless your pet eats a lot of poinsettia—a whole lot, probably more than they would or could ever eat—it will only cause some mild gastric upset. That’s not something you want under any circumstances, but also not a reason to rush your pet to the emergency hospital after one incident. Many plants associated with the December holidays are more toxic than poinsettias, but they too have their tolerable levels. Aside from plants in the lily family which may be in a cut bouquet, most risks take a large quantity to do damage, but because you are preoccupied and probably not watching what your pet is getting into, it’s best not to let them get into it at all.
But surely they’d stay away from fire? Never presume they think like humans do. Here are a few things specific to these holidays to keep your pets away from, whichever holiday you happen to be celebrating.
Click here to read my annual warning of all the dangerous things our kitties might do if we aren’t careful!
And have a safe and happy holiday!
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