Peace on Earth

Posted by Pia

Happy holidays to all of my fellow animal lovers! We all know that it's easy to can get caught up in the season's decorating fun and festivities- but, many holiday items can be hazardous to our furry family members. Be sure to check out the adoptable sweethearts in today's gallery- perhaps you can help them find a loving home by New Year's?

1 of 4
Tuti- NY, NY

1 Tuti- NY, NY

Emma- Encino, Ca.

2 Emma- Encino, Ca.

Argos - Roanoke, Va.

3 Argos - Roanoke, Va.

Baxter- NY, NY

4 Baxter- NY, NY

Avoiding the hazards on the list below makes it easier to decorate in a manner that is fun and safe for the entire family! And you never know what Dasher, Prancer and Dancer might get into when they stop by, so best to play it safe for the sake of all of our fellow creatures!

Some holiday hazards include:

Holiday plants:
Mistletoe, Holly and Ivy are extremely poisonous when nibbled or ingested.
Poinsettias are also hazardous as their leaves and sap can be toxic and cause severe intestinal distress.
Hibiscus can cause vomiting or blooding if ingested
Because there are so many hybrids of the above plants each year, it is best to keep them out of reach or just avoid them altogether.
Christmas greens such as balsam, juniper, cedar, and fir have some toxicity to them so can pose risks as well.

Bones from a holiday Turkey:
Do not feed bones to your furry kids. Not only are they choking hazards but, bone chips and fragments can lodge in the intestines and be very dangerous.

Holiday tree:
Preservatives used in the water for a tree stand can cause intestinal upsets- best bet is not to use such preparations. Avoid sugar and aspirin additives in the water as well. Pesticides used on the tree can also seep into the water so be sure furry family cannot get to the tree water to drink it.

Ingested pine needles can be somewhat toxic and irritate or puncture your companion animal's intestines. Be sure to clean up dry or stray needles as they fall.

Ornaments and Decorations:
String objects like tinsel and ribbon, are to be kept away from companion animals. They can wrap around intestines or ball up in the stomach causing obstructions.
Angel hair (often made of spun glass) can cause severe irritation to skin and eyes irritation and is hazardous if ingested.
Artificial spray snow can be toxic if inhaled or otherwise ingested.
Metal ornament hooks can get caught in playful paws or ingested. Twine or yarn can be used instead to affix ornaments to the tree.

Bubbling holiday lights contain methylene chloride fluid which can be dangerous if inhaled or ingested.

Antifreeze is a huge hazard at this time of year- it tastes sweet to animals so they tend to lick it. Always be sure to clean any such leaks up right away. It poses a sever risk to wildlife and other area animals.

Fireplaces that utilize fire salts present hazards if the salts are ingested-symptoms can include gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, convulsions and other sequelea.

Tying ribbons on a furry family member's neck should be avoided as they can get stuck on objects and potentially choke themselves.

Electric cords can be a hazard to puppies, kittens and bunnies as they may chew them. Keep them secured and out of reach. Also best to unplug them entirely when not in use.

Candles can always be a fire hazard if pushed over by a curious kitty or wagging tail.

Hazardous human foods include: Chocolate, grapes, raisins, avocados, Macadamia nuts, onions or onion powder, garlic, caffeinated drinks, alcohol, cooked bones, fish bones, moldy or spoiled food, and raw yeast dough.
Products sweetened with xylitol are extremely toxic. This sweetener is often found in chewing gum and mints. Any such ingestion requires immediate medical attention.

Other potential harmful substances include ice melting products, liquid potpourri, mothballs and those 'stay fresh pouches' that often come in shoe boxes and gifts. Use caution with all of the above and if an animal ingests any of these potentially fatal items CALL YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY.

I can never overstate the importance of keeping updated tags on all companion animals. Microchipping is also important. All pets should have at least two forms of ID on them at all times. Our nations shelters are filled with lost family pets who no one anticipated would ever get lost. It is tragic and a tag is such an easy safeguard to provide.
Many people travel over the holidays, leaving furry family with a neighbor, petsitter or friend- this is often when animals escape or get lost. It is critical to always have proper ID on them. You might consider getting a tag that includes your pet sitter's or neighbor's name and number if you are going to be unreachable while away.

Wishing you, your companion animals, and all of our fellow creatures, a safe and happy holiday season!

In kinship,
Dr. Pia Salk

Check out the adoptables in todays gallery:

Comments (10)

  • Great Hazard tips Dr.Pia!
    I just picked up the grandog Annie and grandcat Kyle, I'm trying to introduce my Kitty to them, Kyle is lovable and friendly but right now Kitty is not too sure about the we will have to see how all this plays out without anyone getting hurt.
    It's so bitter cold outside and it breaks my heart that some pets don't have the comfort of a loving warm home. Your adopt a pets shown here are darling, and do hope they get loving homes...

  • As always Dr. Pia, thanks for the wonderful advice. I will be posting this on Twitter and FB.

  • Good Morning Dr. Pia

    I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year.

    Zoe & Ann

  • Dr. Pia,

    how timely for these warnings, as I watched a show in Australia by a vet, Dr. Chris Brown (very handsome too) but unfortunately someone's cat was given paracetemol and we saw the cat die. The owner thought someone had done it deliberately, so very sad. Thanks for the above information.

  • Hello ladies, Kirby here.
    And hello to you too Dr. Pia. I know too well about those hazards which are out there. Mommy and Daddy watch me very closely to make sure that I’m kept safe. Anti freeze, for autos, is really dangerous. One of our neighbors likes to put some out when a cat starts hanging around his house. Another neighbor had kittens and let them just run loose. Five of them died in one day. Could not prove the neighbor put out the anti freeze. Please watch your pets and don’t let them run loose. You don’t really know what your neighbors are really like. As a dog, I can tell; there are a few I don’t like at all. Pay attention to your pets; they may know more about your neighbors than you ever dreamed.
    Catch you later, Kirby.

  • Hello Dr. Pia,
    A bit of confusion, maybe you can let me know for sure. Mom and Dad watch things very closely and I am at an age that I don't much mess with things anymore, but just in case for future animals, please let me know. I think last week some time Martha had a dog fashion show and pet expert and told everyone that it was a myth about poinsettias being toxic to animals. Can you double check on this for me? Mom and I are a bit confused?
    May you and your family have a happy and healthy holiday season.

    Basil and Lynn

  • Basil and Lynn,
    I looked up if poinsettias might be toxic to animals, and what I found in's not, but can cause gastrointestinal discomfort if too much ingested...well I think we all would be sick eating any household plant for that matter. Anyway that's what I found on the internet about poinsettias.

  • Hi Dr. Pia, Thanks again for another terrific blog post! EVERYONE needs to know about ALL hazardous things that can affect our wonderful animals if we aren't careful. Thank God I am aware of most of those things and I watch my little Dudley Do Right like a hawk. The only thing I wasn't sure about was 'fire salt'-had never heard of it. Hope you and all of your delightful babies have a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year! Jan and DDR

  • Dr. Pia, Good hliday warnings. At The AmericanShih
    Tzu Club they also have things to do if you pet gets into some of the hazards. Last year I made the mistake of selling pups at Christmas time.It was the biggest mistake I've ever made!People actually believed they could give their kids a pup christmas morning and hide it the night before. Even after we told them they could come Christmas morning or we would bring to them in the morning.We've been very busy here, A year old pup came back when the pup got a bit mean after being put in a cage and letting the kids be so hyper then crating the pup.This would make any dog nippy! Hes a good boy but now a bit aggressive. He's just so happy not to have a crate!Well back to work with the newbee.I retrain with kisses. Terri

  • I wished I was able to see more breeds, we are an older couple looking for a dog around 2to 4 yrs of age, a female dog hoping to find one beagle mix or others. must be able to stay by itself once in a while. we had a beagle mix and we loved her very much she passed on around 2 christmas ago. thank you

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