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Toxic Christmas Decor For your Pet

Decorating for Christmas is a staple of the holiday season for many families. Trees, lights, tinsel, ornaments, stockings, mistletoe, poinsettias, and more can be found in Toxic signmost homes – yet many pet owners are unaware of the dangers lurking in their holiday décor.

Studies have found that as many as 70% of homes are decorated with holiday items that are harmful to pets. Even the most responsible pet owners may accidentally bring an unsafe product or plant into their home unknowingly. Likewise, traveling with your pet over the holidays can expose them to a variety of potential dangers in other people’s homes.

Before you deck the halls with boughs of holly (yes, live holly plants are toxic to animals!) take the time to research what decorations may be harmful to your favorite four-legged friend. Owning a pet doesn’t have to turn you into a Scrooge; there are a variety of pet-friendly holiday decorations that will keep your home holiday-ready and your cats and dogs safe.

The following list of toxic décor items – as well as some alternatives to try instead – can help you avoid any holiday decorations that may harm your pet. By keeping these items out of your home, you can ensure you and your four-legged friend have a safe and happy holiday season.

1. Holiday plants

Many live holiday plants are toxic to pets! To avoid your pet becoming ill, opt for artificial versions of Christmas trees, poinsettia plants, and mistletoe. Another option is to keep live greenery out of reach of pets, such as hanging a real pine wreath on the front door.

  • Christmas trees. Dogs and cats alike love to explore Christmas trees. Unfortunately, live trees can be a hazard to pets. Ingesting tree needles can irritate the mouth and stomach; this can lead to excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Likewise, eating a large number of needles can cause serious digestive issues including GI tract blockages and possible bowel perforation. Trees that are treated with chemicals or other preservatives can further upset a pet’s stomach, particularly if they drink the Christmas tree water.
  • Poinsettia and Peace Lilies. These plants are toxic and should be kept out of reach from pets at all times. Peace Lilies are especially toxic to cats.
  • Mistletoe. Most store-bought mistletoe plants have had their toxic berries replaced with plastic berries. When small amounts of mistletoe are eaten, mild nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can occur. Unfortunately, large ingestions can cause cardiovascular and neurological symptoms.
  • Christmas cactus. Christmas cactus do not have serious toxicity for pets. For pets brave enough to bite into a cactus, however, ingesting them can cause mild GI symptoms – as well as significant mouth irritation!
  • Amaryllis. The bulb of this popular Christmas flower is more toxic than the blooms. While eating amaryllis flowers can cause vomiting and diarrhea, ingesting the bulb can lead to muscle weakness, tremors, and seizures.
  • Holly. All parts of the holly plant can upset the GI tract of pets. Symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy are common after ingesting holly.

2. Breakable or edible ornaments

While glass ornaments themselves are not dangerous, they can become a hazard when broken. Active dogs can bump or jostle a Christmas tree, whereas many cats are happy to find a perch within the branches. Unfortunately, this can cause fragile ornaments to fall – and break. In addition to damaging their paws if pets step on the shattered glass, ingesting it can cause mouth guts and serious GI issues. Consider displaying glass ornaments in a different way, such as on a shelf where they cannot be knocked down.

Edible ornaments such as candy canes, popcorn garlands, or salt dough ornaments should be either avoided altogether or hung high enough on the tree that dogs cannot reach them.

3. Candles

Even in homes without pets, candles should be lit with caution. Keep lit candles high and out of the way of pets, such as towards the back of a kitchen counter. This can prevent burns – as well as your pet knocking over a candle and causing a house fire. For an even safer alternative, consider switching to battery-operated electric candles, which provide the ambiance without the safety risks.

4. Tinsel

Tinsel is unpopular with many homeowners because of the mess it makes. However, it is also toxic to both dogs and cats. While cats are more prone to tinsel poisoning, dogs are at risk too. Ingesting tinsel can cause abdominal pain, dehydration, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. Tinsel and other string-like decorations, such as curling ribbon, can also cause GI blockages or twist around the intestines if ingested.

No matter how you celebrate the holidays, taking a few precautions can help keep you – and your pets – safe throughout the season. For more information on pet safety during the holidays contact the experts at 5 Points Animal Hospital today!

Cold Weather Tips for Your Furry Friend

Many pet owners wrongfully assume that their furry friend’s fur coat equips them to handle cold temperatures. However, many animals simply aren’t equipped to handle frigid temperatures for prolonged periods of time. These cold-weather tips can help protect your pets when they are playing or pottying outside this winter.

Not all pets can tolerate cold temperatures

Owner holding dog with santa hat onWhile our pet’s fur coats may seem like the perfect protection again winter weather, most pets are not able to withstand freezing temperatures for long periods of time. This is especially true for dogs and cats with short hair – the animal equivalent of wearing a t-shirt in sub-zero temperatures.

In winter, pets need protection from frigid weather and wet, wintry conditions; even animals adapted to cold weather, like huskies, need a warm, draft-free, and dry shelter. In addition, keep in mind that pet’s extremities such as their nose, ears, and paws are more vulnerable to damage during extremely cold weather.

Dressing pets for the weather

When outside temperatures drop, we put coats on; should we put coats on our pets, too?

The answer is yes – to a point. Most cats don’t tolerate clothing; even the most well-mannered cats are unlikely to enjoy wearing a sweater. Instead, save winter weather gear for our canine friends. Coats can help keep dogs warm on walks or when going potty outside. However, don’t leave a dog with clothes on unsupervised; if your pet tries to take them off, it can become a suffocation or strangulation risk.

Protect pup pads

Dog shoes may seem a little ridiculous, but boots are actually an excellent way to protect dog’s sensitive paw pads against snow, ice, and dangerous rock salt. Start by putting baby socks on your dog’s feet at home; this allows them to get used to the sensation of walking with something on their feet. Once they can successfully tolerate the socks, they’re ready to graduate to boots.

Keep outdoor cats safe

While some pet owners transition cats indoors for the winter months, other felines prefer to stay outdoors. In these cases, it is important to provide kitty with a safe, dry space to eat and sleep.

Once nighttime temperatures dip into the high 30s, outdoor pets should have a shelter. Cat shelters can be easy and inexpensive to make and maintain; pre-fabricated pet houses, wooden boxes, or even cardboard boxes can be used as cat shelters. Insulate the sides with plastic, fabric, or foam, then line the bottom with old blankets or bedding. Check the shelter daily to ensure the bedding is dry – and to make sure your cat’s water supply hasn’t frozen.

Putting cat shelters in a garage, on a covered porch, in a shed, or in another protected area can provide another degree of protection from the elements. Likewise, make sure food and water are in a secure area only your cat can access; you want to feed your pet – not the neighborhood raccoon population.

Remember: if it is too cold for you, it is probably too cold for your pet. This winter, follow these safety tips to ensure your pets stay safe and warm – no matter the temperature outside. for more information on winter pet safety tips, contact 5 Points Animal Hospital today!

Can I Keep My Pet in My Car During The Winter?

We love our pets and want them to go to as many places as we do! While there are many stores and businesses that are dog-friendly, there are still many that are not; most dog in carstores where food is prepared or served inside do not allow pets. Because of this, many pet owners consider leaving their dogs in the car – particularly as the weather outside gets colder.

Can I leave my pet in a cold car?

We all know the dangers of leaving animals in the car during the summer. If the temperature is even a mild 70 degrees, it can reach the 90s inside a vehicle within 10 minutes; for pets, this can lead to dangerous overheating, suffering, and even heat stroke. But what about during the winter when temperatures are cool? Is there ever a safe temperature to leave an animal in a vehicle?

The short answer is, unfortunately, no. Dogs and other pets should never be left unattended in a vehicle, no matter the outside temperature. While outside temperatures in the 60s and 70s can lead to overheating and heat exposure, temperatures in the 50s or colder can lead to cold-related issues such as hypothermia.

The dangers of cold cars for pets

When the weather outside is cold, the temperature inside a car can quickly drop. Cracking the window in an effort to improve circulation can often serve to just cool the car down faster. While all pets are at risk of cold-related issues, small animals or those that are ill, thin, or older are at a particular risk of problems such as hypothermia. No matter their size or health, animals should not be left unattended in a vehicle for any length of time – no matter the weather.

What do I do if I see an unattended dog?

Whether it is in the winter or the summer, seeing an unattended dog left in a car can be upsetting. However, this doesn’t mean that taking things into your own hands is the best course of action. In total, 31 states have laws that prohibit leaving an animal in a confined vehicle; 15 states (AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, IN, KS, LA, MA, OH, OR, TN, VT, and WI) have laws that protect those who attempt to rescue trapped animals.

Before resorting to drastic measures, try to find the owner first. Write down the make, model, and license plate number of the car; ask the management of nearby businesses to page customers over the loudspeaker. If the owner does not come forward, contact local law enforcement or animal control to ensure the pet is quickly, safely, and legally removed.

If you aren’t sure you’ll be able to take your dog inside every location you’re visiting this winter, its best to leave them at home. For more information on traveling with your pet or on caring for them during the winter, contact Five Points Animal Hospital today!

Keep Your Pets Warm This Winter

One of 5 Points Animal Hospital’s favorite neighborhood spots, the Shelby Dog Park is a popular place throughout the year fordog with scarf dogs to run and play while their owners make new friends, catch up with familiar faces, and enjoy fresh air and sunshine.

However, the moderate weather we usually enjoy can get bitterly cold from time to time during the winter, and you may wonder how safe it is for you and your dog to be outside for longer than a few minutes when the temperature drops below freezing. To help keep your pets warm this winter, we would like to share with you a few tips. When it comes to the health and safety of your pets, you can count on us to help you take care of your four-legged babies.


When the temperature drops below freezing, you should keep your dogs and cats inside your home with you and your family, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Even if your cat normally roams around outside during the rest of the year, it is vital that he stay indoors when it is this cold. If your dog must stay outside during the day, you must provide him with an appropriately sized shelter to protect him from the wind, rain, and snow. Make sure the floor of the shelter is raised up a few inches above the ground.


Although it is recommended to keep your pets inside when it is below freezing, you should still take your dog on short walks at least a couple times a day. When it is this cold, the windchill can be dangerous by increasing the risk for frostbite and hypothermia. If your dog is short-haired, he may be more comfortable wearing a sweater. Another thing you should be careful about when walking your dog is rock salt. It can irritate his paw pads. Just be sure to wipe all of his feet off with a damp towel as soon as you can to keep him from licking them because it can irritate his mouth. If your dog does happen to ingest any rock salt, contact 5 Points Animal Hospital immediately. The sooner we can treat your dog for salt poisoning, the better.

Stay warm and cozy with your pets this winter. Contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital for any more tips on how to keep your furry friends safe and healthy this season.

Keep Your Pets Safe in Cold Weather

Dog Listening Weather Image - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital You hear a lot about how dangerous the summer heat can be for pets, but freezing cold temperatures can be just as hazardous. Winter weather can pose some hazards and other problems for dogs and cats, and it is important to be aware of certain situations. Following a few cold weather safety practices can keep your pets happy and healthy all winter long. 5 Points Animal Hospital would like to share some tips with you to help you make sure your pets are safe and warm this winter.

Know your pet’s limits.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) certain factors of your pet determine his tolerance to cold weather. Based on his coat, amount of body fat, health, and level of activity, he may be able to stay outside in the cold longer than your neighbor’s dog. If your dog has arthritis or is elderly, it can be more difficult to tolerate cold weather and to walk on snow and ice. Pets with diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and other health issues can be more susceptible to extreme temperatures because they have a more difficult time regulating their body temperature.

Keep your pet inside during cold weather.

Some people mistakenly believe that dogs and cats can handle being outside in cold weather because of their fur coats, but pets are just as susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite as humans are. Even if you have a long-haired dog like a husky, you should never leave your pet outside for an extended period of time when the temperature drops below freezing.

Be careful when starting your car.

If you have outdoor and feral cats living in your neighborhood, you should always knock on the hood of your car before you start the engine during the winter. These cats tend to sleep under the hoods of cars during periods of freezing weather. Making a bit of noise allows a cat to escape from under the hood before you start up your car.

Take a look at your dog’s paws.

Frequently check your dog’s paws for cracked paw pads and bleeding as these are signs of injuries or damage from cold weather. Your dog’s feet can pick up ice balls as well as toxic chemicals from deicers and antifreeze during walks, so you should always wipe off your dog’s paws when you get home from your walks.

Stay away from ice.

You should always avoid frozen lakes, ponds, and other water when on walks with your dog. You can never tell if the ice can support the weight of your dog, and if your dog falls through the ice, it can be a deadly situation.
5 Points Animal Hospital wants you and your pets to stay safe and warm this winter. Contact us if you would like to know more winter weather safety tips for your dogs and cats.

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