Festive decorations and yummy food add color and an atmosphere of cheer to your home during the holiday season. It is natural to include your four-legged friend in holiday festivities, but be careful to safeguard them against potential dangers of common holiday decorations and treats.
A Christmas tree is often the focus of holiday decorations but can be dangerous to your pets. A tree should be securely anchored so it cannot be toppled by a curious dog investigating the ornaments. A tree-climbing cat can take a one down even faster.Fragile breakable ornaments should be kept high. Broken ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth and digestive tract or cut a paw. Shiny tinsel and gift wrapping ribbons are attractive play things for a pet. Unfortunately swallowing them can cause an obstructed digestive tract and may require surgery.
Pets of any age may see the cords on tree lights as tempting chew toys, but they are especially attractive to young cats and dogs. Gnawing on wires puts your pet at risk of severe burns or even electrocution. A barrier of aluminum foil, double-sided tape or bubble wrap can be a deterrent, but using a commercial product designed to wrap cords is much better. Some wire wraps come infused with a bitter-tasting material to discourage a pet from munching.
Poinsettias, holly, mistletoe,amaryllis, and lilies are commonly used to brighten the home. All are toxic to pets. Lilies are the most dangerous as a few bites can cause severe conditions in cats. Others are less toxic but can cause stomach issues and should be kept out of reach.
Many Christmas dinner tables feature a turkey or ham with all the trimmings. It is tempting to share some of the goodies with your family pet. Make sure you offer a tasty delight and not a tummy ache. Some holiday favorites can cause severe gastrointestinal upset and perhaps an emergency trip to the vet. Don’t share turkey skin or bones, fatty ham, nutmeg, sage, grapes, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pecans, onions, shallots, garlic, raisins, chocolate or alcohol.
There are goodies that you can safely offer your pet.Turkey is a great treat for your dog as long as it is not covered with seasonings and garlic that can be toxic to pets. Remove turkey skin, excess fat and all bones as they can splinter and cause problems.
Sharing ham or other pork dishes is not recommended. Most commercial foods do not use pork as an ingredient in their products because it is too fatty and salty and according to experts at the American Kennel Club (AKC) there is a slight risk of your dog getting the round worm trichinosis.
Consider the ingredients before sharing human side dishes. Some are fine, but others require a few modifications. Cranberry sauce is safe but can have a high sugar content so should be offered in small quantities. Mashed potatoes are another treat your dog can share if you haven’t added ingredients like cheese, sour cream, onions, or gravy. Dinner rolls are great delicious safe treats.
Green bean casserole is a standby for many family dinners but is off limits for your dog. The dairy in the sauce can cause diarrhea, and onions can be toxic. Plain green beans are very healthy and are a tasty treat that most dogs love. Similarly, baked sweet potatoes are fine, but candied sweet potatoes or yams are loaded with undesirable sugar and spices.
So we are up to desert. Pumpkin pie is a favorite but is a no-no for your pup. According to the AKC, cinnamon and its oils can cause a pet’s mouth and stomach conditions. Large amounts can increase the heart rate and may lead to more serious conditions. Plain pumpkin from a can is good for a pet’s digestion and most pups love a dollop on their kibble.
We love to share cheerful decorations and delicious holiday food with friends. Regrettably, they can pose a danger to our pets. Our lovely decorations can cause cuts, electrical shock or other conditions to much-loved pals. Sharing holiday delectable goodies can lead to gastrointestinal distress for a four-legged friend. Offer holiday treats in small portions. Keep your pet on his regular diet but reduce the amount to balance the calories in the holiday goodies.
Have a holiday that has cheerful decorations and yummy goodies that are enjoyable for you and safe for your pet. Merry Christmas!
C. Sue Furman, Ph.D. spent 40 years at several major universities including the University of Maryland, School of Medicine and Colorado State University, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences teaching future physicians and veterinarians and conducting research involving nerve and muscle. Learn more about Dr. C. Sue Furman here.