Putting up the Christmas tree or other holiday decorations is a fun tradition for families, including the pets. They are naturally curious about having a tree in their house and want to check out everything else as well. Unfortunately, their curiosity can get them into trouble. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, the organization receives more calls from distressed pet parents on Christmas Eve than any other day of the year. By following a few simple precautions, you can avoid having your pet become part of a holiday statistic.

The Tree
Chewing on the pine needles of a live tree or drinking its water can cause severe gastrointestinal distress in dogs and cats. The needles may even lodge in your pet’s throat and block his airways. Be sure that you cover your tree with skirting each night and supervise your pet around it during the day. Firmly tell him “No!” if it appears he is about to chew on the tree or some of the ornaments. Keep items that are easily breakable out of your pet’s reach, especially snow globes and string lights that contain hazardous chemicals.

You may also want to consider securing the Christmas tree to the wall and taping down all loose cords from strings of lights. Tinsel is one of the more dangerous holiday decorations for pets because its shiny appearance is attractive to them. Swallowed tinsel may cause an animal to choke or cause extensive damage to the stomach and esophagus. If your pet can’t leave tree ornaments alone, spray them with a bitter-tasting pet training aid.

Menorah Candles
Lighting the menorah candle for eight nights during Hanukkah is a wonderful way to draw the whole family together, pets included. However, leaving a pet unattended around a lit candle is dangerous. If you use a live flame, make sure you have secured the menorah on a sturdy surface in a spot your pet can’t access. If she just can’t contain her curiosity, consider placing her in another room or a crate. Lastly, be certain that you completely extinguish the candle before going to bed. 

The smells of goodies and various foods will tempt your pet to try to sneak a taste, so it’s important to be on guard to prevent this. Some holiday foods are extremely dangerous for pets to ingest, including:
"¢ Grapes and raisins
"¢ Chocolate
"¢ Turkey skin
"¢ Bones from poultry
"¢ Alcohol in any form
"¢ Onions
"¢ Nuts
"¢ Yeast 
"¢ Nutmeg

To prevent your pet from gaining too much weight over the holidays, stick to his regular feeding schedule and don’t skip out on exercise. A little discipline now means you won’t have to break your dog or cat of bad habits once the winter holidays are done. Try to give your pet lots of love and attention this season to avoid having her regress in her behavior.

Sometimes accidents happen despite your vigilance. Please contact Minnesota Veterinary Clinic during regular office hours at 651-484-3331 or the Affiliated Emergency Veterinary Service location nearest you for immediate help.