Holiday Pet Safety Tips
While joyful traditions make the holidays special, some can pose serious risks for our four-legged family members.

Each year, families throughout metro Detroit look forward to the holiday season and the festive parties, meals and decorations that come with it. However, while these joyful traditions make the holidays special, some can pose serious risks for our four-legged family members. The Michigan Humane Society (MHS) offers the following tips for keeping pets safe during the busy holiday season:

  • Holiday plants can be harmful or toxic, including mistletoe, holly, poinsettias, Japanese yew, Jerusalem cherry, lilies and the bulb of the amaryllis plant. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your companion animal is vomiting, lethargic or foaming at the mouth.
  • Happy Holidays!Keep pets away from holiday decorations and never leave them unsupervised around the Christmas tree. Tinsel, ribbon, bows and angel hair - which many cats find irresistible - are choking hazards and can cause intestinal blockages if swallowed. Glass balls may be “fetched” off the tree and break. Also, ingested pine needles can puncture the intestines, so vacuum around the tree frequently.
  • Preservatives, aspirin - which is especially deadly to cats - or sugar commonly used to prolong a Christmas tree’s life may prove harmful if the water is ingested; even without preservatives, the water may contain harmful fertilizers from the tree. 
  • Make sure lights and electrical cords are out of reach. Besides the risk of electrocution, the whole tree may topple over.
  • Secure four-legged family members while entertaining. More guests mean more chances for a pet to slip out; as always, be sure he is wearing a collar and ID tag.  In conjunction with a visible tag for each pet, MHS highly recommends microchips as a permanent, safe and effective form of identification.
  • Some pets are social butterflies who enjoy the extra activity of the holidays, but others may prefer peace and quiet. Provide a safe place away from all the commotion with favorite toys, food and water, a litter box for cats, quiet background music, and comfy bedding.
  • Hold the leftovers. A taste or two may be okay for most pets, but a drastic change in a pet’s diet can cause severe gastrointestinal upset and require emergency medical attention. Never give animals poultry or steak bones, which can splinter or lodge in the throat, stomach or intestinal tract.  Also, be sure the garbage is secured.
  • Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and can prove fatal depending on the dog’s size and the amount and type of chocolate ingested. The safest rule is to keep all chocolate out of a dog’s reach.
  • Lighted candles should never be left unattended, especially with animals around.
  • Alcohol and pets do not mix. Keep alcoholic drinks where animals can not reach them. If ingested, the animal could become very sick and weak, possibly resulting in respiratory failure.


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