Christmas dangers for pets include tinsel

Christmas Dangers for Pets: Watch Out!


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The tinsel is up, and the tree is groaning under the weight of baubles. Your Christmas lunch menu is all planned. What could possibly go wrong? Anyone with a cat, dog or other curious pet will know that brightly wrapped gifts, glittery decorations, and ALL THAT CHRISTMAS FOOD are serious temptations for fur kids. While it’s mostly harmless, there are some Christmas dangers for pets you need to be mindful of.

From pets and Christmas trees to ornaments and ham leftovers, some common risks are covered in this article. Just like awesome prezzies for your fur kids are covered in our article about pet care gifts for Christmas.

Christmas dangers for pets: Decorations

Christmas décor is essential to really get into the festive spirit. There’s not much that screams Christmas more than a twinkling tree. But are these pet-safe?

They’re pretty and festive, but fairy lights can be a Christmas danger to curious pets.

Christmas lighting and pets

They’re pretty and festive, but fairy lights can be a Christmas danger for curious pets. They twinkle and dangle, and anyone with a curious pet knows the dangers of that combination. Make sure to hang them out of reach.

Why? Your pet could get them stuck around their legs or neck, for a start. Then there’s the potential internal damage… For puppies in the teething stage (or just pets who chew everything!) then electric shock, lacerations from glass, and internal injuries could occur.

Electrical shock may occur when a pet chomps down on an electrical cord, causing anything from tongue lacerations to possible death. Check your holiday lights for signs of fraying or chewing and use a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution.

If you have candles on display, place them in a hard-to-reach spot so your pets can’t access them. Not only can pets seriously burn themselves but knocking over candles creates a fire hazard and may leave a trail of hot wax that’ll easily burn the pads of paws and skin.

Christmas trees and pets

You might think that fake Christmas trees would be a big problem for cats and dogs. But actually, real Christmas trees are where a big danger lies for pets. Pine needles are toxic if ingested and can cause internal puncture wounds. They can also exacerbate skin issues for dogs and cats who have sensitive skin or allergies.

Make sure to keep real Christmas trees well-watered so the needles don’t dry out and drop off for your pet to eat. Keep them away from the water too, because this in itself could be poisonous to your pet.

Christmas trees and pets – so cute together but some health risks involved. Which also include…

Tempting strings ‘n things

It’s not just the tree itself, it’s also the decorations! Cats in particular can’t resist a good, sparkly piece of tinsel. If they accidentally ingest tinsel, it can get stuck in the digestive tract. This often requires surgical removal.

Same goes for the strings on baubles, the little toys that pop out of Christmas crackers, confetti, silly string, streamers, and so on and so on. Keep an eye out to remove hazards from the floor as you move through the festivities.

Cats can’t resist a good, sparkly piece of Christmas tinsel. If they accidentally ingest tinsel, it can get stuck in the digestive tract.

Festive plants and pets

Sometimes we bring plants into our home at Christmas to enhance the festive vibe; sometimes we’re given them as presents. Know that other common Christmas plants can be poisonous too – mistletoe, poinsettias especially, and holly as well.

Many of us don’t realise how many plants are toxic for pets.

One claim PD Insurance reimbursed last year highlighted the toxicity of the flamingo lily. Two kitten siblings chewed on this plant and became very sick. They required costly treatment that could’ve been avoided by keeping the toxic plant out of the home. But the owners just didn’t know that flamingo lily, a pretty common house plant, contains insoluble calcium oxalates that are toxic to cats.

Other plants to keep out of reach include:

  • Fiddle leaf fig
  • Aloe vera
  • Ivy
  • Peace lilies
  • Succulents (particularly ‘sticks on fire’ or pencil cactus)
  • Tulips
  • Monstera deliciosa
  • Hydrangea

Read more in our plants that are toxic to pets article.

Christmas dangers for pets: Lifestyle risks

Not all Christmas safety risks come in the form of tinsel and wrapping paper. The season itself is often a more dangerous time for pets, and part of this is because our general lifestyle changes over this period. We have more foods in the house, more visitors coming in and out (hopefully closing the door behind them!), we’ll often take our pets to new places, and so on.

When it comes to managing Christmas dangers and pets, here are a few things you should know about food.

Christmas dinner and pets needs serious consideration about toxic foods

Christmas food isn’t so good for pets

We all know that Christmas and food go hand in hand. Great for humans (aside from the extra few kilos!) but not always so great for pets. One of the biggest Christmas dangers is all the food that pets can’t or shouldn’t eat.

Here’s a quick (nowhere near exhaustive) list of foods to keep away from your cat or dog during Christmas:

  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol (check baked goods, peanut butter and other pantry goods for this)
  • Cured, salted, or very fatty meats (lamb, ham, salami etc.)
  • Onions and garlic
  • Cooked bones
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Mince pies, Christmas pudding, fruitcake, and any other foods with raisins and sultanas.
  • Alcohol

If you want to organise something special for them, you still can. Just check out our articles on Christmas dog food recipes, festive homemade cat treats and ideas for Christmas dinner with pets.

Keeping your eye on pets becomes harder

We’re all busy during Christmas. Busy wrapping up gifts, busy cooking huge meals, busy entertaining guests. Keep an extra watchful eye on your pets over this period. It becomes easier for them to slip out of the door and onto a road. Or for them to sneak into the kitchen while you’re busy talking to your cousin.  

Pets can also become unsettled with big changes in routine and all the added excitement. Be sure to check in on them regularly and give them plenty of reassurance and attention.

And word yourself up on pet safety and fireworks while you’re at it, in preparation for New Year’s Eve. Dogs and cats have extra special hearing, which means all that noise can seriously unsettle them. Read our tips to ensure they feel comfortable and safe.

Have safeguards in place

Don’t let a pet emergency ruin your Christmas. Taking out pet insurance means that if your dog or cat does get a biiiiit too involved in the Christmas spirit this year, you can get them prompt medical attention. Without worrying about the bill.

That’s why we think it’s the best Christmas gift for pets.

Taking out pet insurance means that if your dog or cat does get a bit too involved in the Christmas spirit this year, you can get them prompt medical attention.

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