iStock_000015842470_LargeOur Thanksgiving meals have been consumed, football has been watched, and Black Friday shopping has been done. It’s time now to turn our attention towards preparing our homes for the rest of the holiday season: tree trimming, lights hanging, and all the other fun and nostalgic decorations that remind us of the holidays.

When we pull out our holiday décor this year, it’s important to keep in mind that many commonly used items can pose a real threat to our furry family members. Before you get started on transforming your home into a winter wonderland, take a few moments to educate yourself on holiday decoration safety for your pets.

O’ Christmas Tree

Tree trimming is a beloved tradition in many homes, but many of the items associated with this timeless activity can be hazardous for your pet. Keep the following items away from pets or remove them from your décor altogether:

Glass ornaments – Glass or breakable plastic ornaments are so hard for curious kitties to resist, but broken shards can easily injure soft paws or noses. If you must have glass ornaments on your tree, relegate them to the top branches only.

Tinsel – While not poisonous, tinsel is often ingested by pets and can cause a medical emergency such as intestinal blockage or rupture. Please, just say ‘No!’ to tinsel if you have pets (especially cats) in your home.

Wires and cords – Strings of lights and other electric cords pose a serious hazard to your pet, either from entanglement or electric shock (if chewed on). Limit your pet’s exposure to electrical cords and wires by covering them in protective tubing or tacking them up out of reach.

Edible ornaments – While those rock-hard gingerbread ornaments your kids made last year probably seem far from appealing to you, your pet might beg to differ.  Besides the fact that your pet could experience gastrointestinal distress from eating an edible ornament, smaller ornaments or fragments could become lodged in his or her throat or intestinal tract. Keep edible ornaments off the tree or on the higher branches only.

Plants And Pets

Most of us already know to keep Poinsettias away from our pets, but did you know there are other seasonal greenery and flowers that are much more toxic?

Anything from the Lily family (Easter lilies, day lilies, and stargazer are some examples) are extremely poisonous to cats if chewed on. Other common holiday plants, such as mistletoe, holly, and pine needles, can cause stomach upset and other health issues if ingested.

Call us right away if you suspect your pet has chewed on or eaten something hazardous.

Holiday Odds And Ends

Now that your tree and greenery are secured, it’s time to assess the safety of miscellaneous holiday decorations such as:

Snow globes – Besides the fact that many snow globes are glass and pose a risk of injury if they are broken, the liquid inside sometimes contains small amounts of antifreeze which is extremely toxic to pets.

Candles – This probably goes without saying, but keep all live candles well out of reach of curious paws or wagging tails.

Gift wrapping – Clean up wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons as they accumulate during the great unwrapping. Much like tinsel, bows, ribbons, and paper can cause intestinal blockage if eaten by pets.

Ornament hooks – Although they seem harmless, these little hooks can become lodged in a pet’s mouth, eyes, or paws.

With a few modifications, we can have our homes looking holiday-ready while keeping our pets safe, too. Wishing you, your pet, and your family a happy holiday season, from all of us at Oak Forest Veterinary Hospital!