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!

By Dr. Janet Grace | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Toxic Christmas Decor For your Pet

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