Holidays often hazardous for pets

NANAIMO – Care needs to be taken when celebrating the holidays around animals.

The holidays are a time for festive decorations and special treats, but some of these seasonal items can be hazardous for pets.

Just ask Agnes. Last year, the six-year-old Old English sheepdog underwent emergency surgery to recover approximately six metres of sharp wire tinsel from her stomach.

To help ensure pets have a safe and happy holiday, the B.C. SPCA offers the following reminders:

No bones please – Avoid giving bones to dogs or cats, particularly turkey bones. Poultry bones easily splinter and can cause serious injury, while bone fragments can cause intestinal blockages or lacerations.

Healthy treats – Chocolate and other sweets should not be given to animals. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that can be deadly to cats and dogs, though not harmful to humans.

The best thing for pets over the holidays is to keep them on their regular diet. Look for special animal treats instead of giving animals cookies or sweets meant for people.

Poisonous plants – Many popular holiday plants are poisonous to animals including mistletoe, holly, ornamental pepper and Christmas rose. Remember to keep these plants out of reach of pets – especially birds.

Poinsettias are not poisonous to pets or people. This has been a long-standing rumour perpetuated for decades. However, some pets with a sensitivity to the latex contained in the plant may get diarrhea or even vomit if they consume parts of a poinsettia.

Avoid tinsel – A Christmas tree and pets is a recipe for trouble. First, make sure the tree is well secured. Try to place decorations above paw height and use string to hang the bulbs instead of hooks, which are easily dislodged. If possible, use nonbreakable ornaments.

Avoid using tinsel or angel hair. Cats and dogs will ingest both, which can cause intestinal problems. Cords for lights should be made inaccessible to pets – especially from chewing puppies and exploring kittens.

Keep in mind the chemicals added to the water reservoir of a Christmas tree to keep it living longer won’t do the same for a pet. The chemicals are toxic to animals, so keep the reservoir covered

Choking hazards in toys – Avoid purchasing pet toys with small or soft pieces that can be chewed and swallowed. Nylon bones tend to splinter less than plastic ones. Be sure to inspect pet toys regularly and discard deteriorating ones.