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How to keep pets safe during the holidays

A few simple precautions

Pets can unwittingly get themselves in trouble during the holiday season. A few simple precautions can keep your pet safe and healthy. Photo credit: Marine Pfc. Grace L. Waladkewics

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This information, from the Belvoir Veterinary Center, details the dangers of pets and holiday decorations.

Christmas trees: Sometimes, pets can make hazards for us, by trying to climb Christmas trees or break ornaments. Consider having your tree tied down to a ceiling or door frame.

Water additives to trees: Hazards, including aspirin or sugar, can be potentially fatal for pets.

Ornaments: Broken ornaments can cause injury and ingested ornaments can cause foreign body obstruction, toxicity or severe gastroenteritis. Keep homemade ornaments, especially those made from dough, high and away from pets.

Tinsel, strings: These can be tempting for pets to eat, resulting in a linear (bunching) obstruction of a dog or cat's small intestines. Without immediate surgical correction, the tinsel or string will rip through the intestines and cause death.

Electric lights: These can cause electrocution, burns and/or life-threatening, pulmonary edema in a pet's lungs. Be sure to unplug electric decorations while you are not around, as pets can often chew the cords.

Flowers, festive plants: Mistletoe, pine, cedar, holly, and poinsettias can be dangerous and poisonous to pets that eat them. We recommend printing out a list of plants that are toxic to your pets, so you can avoid having them in your home. Lists of what is toxic for dogs and cats are available from

Candles: For your family's safety at home, never leave a pet alone with a lit candle, as it could result in a fire.

Potpourris: Liquid potpourris have essential oils and cationic detergents that can severely harm a pet's mouth, eyes and skin.

If you expect to host guests this season, keep an eye on the front and back doors as guests enter or leave the house, as pets may get out and become lost. Ensure identification tags and microchips are on/in your pets, as microchips are often how lost pets get reunited with their owners. Pet owners who are unsure if their pet has a microchip can find out through a visit to the Vet Center and microchips are easily implanted during appointments.

During parties and all the time, trash should be kept in a closed container or in a hard-to-reach area, away from pets.

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