From all of us here at MHS, best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season!
Each year, families across Michigan and throughout the world, sit down with their families to celebrate the holidays with festive parties, big meals and colorful decorations. However, while these traditions are what make the holidays special for all of us, some can be potentially dangerous for our furry friends. The Michigan Humane Society (MHS) offers the following tips for keeping pets safe during the holiday season:
- Holiday plants can be harmful or toxic, including mistletoe, holly, Japanese yew, Jerusalem cherry, lilies and the bulb of the Amaryllis plant. A common myth is that Poinsettia are poisonous to pets – while not ideal, they are not lethal. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet is vomiting, lethargic or foaming at the mouth. A list of emergency veterinarians is available at www.michiganhumane.org.
- Keep pets away from holiday decorations and never leave them unsupervised around the Christmas tree. Tinsel, ribbon, and bows – which many cats find irresistible – are choking hazards and can cause intestinal blockages if swallowed. Glass balls may be “fetched” off the tree and break. Also, if you have a real Christmas tree, ingested pine needles can puncture the intestines, so vacuum around the tree often.
- Make sure lights and electrical cords are out of reach. Besides the risk of electrocution, the tree may topple over. Don’t spend your holidays imitating the Griswolds!
- Secure four-legged family members while entertaining. More guests mean more chances for a pet to slip out. MHS strongly recommends that all pets have identification, including a collar and ID tag, as well as microchip as a permanent, safe and effective form of identification.
- Provide a safe, quiet place away from the hustle and bustle. Some pets are social butterflies who enjoy the extra activity of the holidays, but others may prefer peace and quiet. Stock the area with their favorite toys, food and water, a litter box for cats and comfy bedding. If they are agitated, soothing music may be helpful.
- Hold the leftovers. A taste or two may be okay for most pets, but a drastic change in a pet’s diet can cause severe gastrointestinal upset and require emergency medical attention. Never give animals poultry or steak bones, which can splinter or lodge in the throat, stomach or intestinal tract. Poultry skin can be harmful as well, while onions, garlic, grapes and raisins are dangerous for dogs. And of course, be sure the garbage is secured.
- Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and can prove fatal depending on the dog’s size and the amount and type of chocolate ingested. The safest rule is to keep all chocolate out of a dog’s reach.
- Lighted candles should never be left unattended, especially with animals around.
- Alcohol and pets do not mix. Keep alcoholic drinks where animals cannot reach them. If ingested, the animal could become very sick and weak, possibly resulting in respiratory failure.
The Michigan Humane Society is a private, nonprofit organization which cares for more than 100,000 animals each year, while working to end companion animal homelessness, provide the highest quality service and compassion to the animals entrusted to our care, and to be a leader in promoting humane values. For more information, please visit www.michiganhumane.org.