The holidays are a time for festive decorations and special treats, but some of these seasonal items can be hazardous for your pets. Lorie Chortyk, the BC SPCA’s general manager of community relations, offers the following tips to keep your pet safe and happy this holiday season:
No Bones Please: Avoid giving bones to your dogs or cats, particularly turkey bones. Poultry bones easily splinter and can cause serious injury, while bone fragments can cause intestinal blockages or lacerations;
Healthy Treats: Chocolate and other sweets should not be given to animals. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that can be deadly to cats and dogs, though not harmful to humans. The best thing you can do for your pets over the holidays is to keep them on their regular diet. Look for special animal treats instead of giving your animals cookies or sweets meant for people;
Poisonous Plants: Many popular holiday plants are poisonous to animals including mistletoe, holly, ornamental pepper and Christmas rose. Remember to keep these plants out of reach of pets - especially birds. Poinsettias are not poisonous to pets or people. This has been a long-standing rumour perpetuated for decades. Having said this, some pets, that have a sensitivity to the latex contained in the plant, may get diarrhea or even vomit if they consume parts of a poinsettia;
Avoid Tinsel: If you have a Christmas tree and pets, you have a recipe for trouble. First, make sure the tree is well secured. Try to place decorations above paw height and use string to hang the bulbs instead of hooks, which are easily dislodged. If possible, use nonbreakable ornaments. Avoid using tinsel or angel hair. Cats and dogs will ingest both, which can cause intestinal problems. Cords for lights should be made inaccessible to pets - especially from chewing puppies and exploring kittens. Keep in mind that the chemicals added to the water reservoir of your Christmas tree to keep your tree living longer won't do the same for your pet. The chemicals are toxic to animals, so keep the reservoir covered;
Choking Hazards in Toys: Avoid purchasing pet toys with small or soft pieces that can be chewed and swallowed. Nylon bones tend to splinter less than plastic ones. Be sure to inspect pet toys regularly and discard deteriorating ones.
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.