Hazards everywhere


Bonnie Dawson, special to the Hub, writes this year about pet safety.

An exciting time is at hand. Parents are turning into machines, capable of walking for hours without food or water, just to find that perfect gift. Children are turning into angels, rarely talking back or getting into trouble for fear of a giant lump of coal being delivered instead of gifts.

Homes look beautiful, filled with flashy, shiny, tasty, glittery, pine-smelling, bright, noisy, crackly items, intriguing your curious cats and dogs and making it hard for them to pass by.

Many of these pretty things, including holly, poinsettias, mistletoe and lilies, can be potentially deadly to your pet if ingested. Pine needles can puncture holes in your pet’s intestine, and the water keeping your tree fresh can contain deadly fertilizers held in tree sap, as well as bacteria.  Never put aspirin (to keep the tree fresh) in the water, since you risk your pet’s life. 

Shattered tree ornaments can cut a pet’s foot. And worse, if thought to be a toy and shattered in your pet’s mouth and ingested, they will cause intestinal laceration and internal bleeding. Ornaments made from dried food can also cause considerable damage and cats love to eat tinsel causing intestinal issues. Batteries for your children’s toys will cause serious mouth burns and poisoning, and those tiny bags of silica in shoe boxes are also poisonous.

First and foremost, holiday activity can really stress your pet out and be very frightening.   Please do not leave him/her outside for the sake of house guests, and convenience. The temperatures are far too extreme. You are only subjecting your pet to frostbite and hypothermia and possible loss of ears, tail and even death. For a rule of thumb, if it is too cold for you, it is too cold for your pet.

Ensure your pets have safe and secure places where they can hide out if need be. Remember to have an ID on your pet’s collar, just in case he/she slips out unnoticed, allowing the pet to be easily reunited with you.

As tempting as those dark eyes are, pleading with you and your guests, do not feed your pets human food and stress this to your guests. Many foods can cause vomiting and diarrhea, even serious illness and poisoning. All forms of chocolate, alcohol, onions, garlic, nuts of any kind, and some fruits are highly toxic and could result in death. That little bit of turkey, skin and gravy is very rich and can result in quite a mess to clean up.

Toys and treats for your pet are all part of Christmas. But bean bag toys, rawhide chewies, toys with hard noses and eyes, and plastic toys that can splinter, can be harmful.

Introducing a new companion animal into your home is best left to after the holidays. Loud noises and visiting guests will make transitioning very difficult for a new pet. You can hold off until the activities are over and the house is free of hazardous Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, ribbons and toys laying around before adopting that new furry friend.

It is not all doom and gloom, but use common sense. That is your best weapon against mishaps and the best way to protect your pet. From my happy furry family to yours, have a wonderful magical Christmas and amazing New Year.