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Holiday Hazards for Pets

Dec 04, 2017

If you’re decking the halls with boughs of holly this holiday season, do your pets a favour and choose the artificial kind.

“A lot of people aren’t aware that holly and mistletoe are poisonous to pets,” says Ryan Voutilainen, manager of the Delta Community Animal Shelter. “They should always be kept out of reach of pets, or, even better, replaced with an artificial alternative.”

Unfortunately, these aren’t the only holiday hazards for pets at this time of year. Although the Christmas poinsettia is not poisonous to dogs and cats, the Christmas rose and ornamental pepper plants are.

Chocolate ­- particularly dark chocolate due to its higher concentration of the chemical theobromine­ - is also toxic to dogs and cats, and can even be deadly.

“The best thing for pet guardians can do is keep all of these items away from their furry family members,” says Voutilainen.

Next to Santa, there is perhaps no other holiday guest whose arrival is anticipated more than the roast turkey. Yet the turkey, too, comes with a warning for pet guardians: meat may be a treat but bones are bad. A little turkey meat in moderation won’t harm your pet, says Voutilainen, but poultry bones have a tendency to splinter, and can seriously injure your dog or cat.

Tinsel is another holiday fixture that can be dangerous to pets. Cats and dogs attracted by tinsel’s shine and sparkle may be tempted to turn tinsel into a treat. Tinsel can obstruct the digestive tract and cause vomiting and dehydration, leading to possible surgery to correct.

Meanwhile, glass decorations are also problematic for curious cats and dogs who mistake them for genuine pet toys. Voutilainen recommends keeping all tree decorations that could put pets at risk up high on the tree and away from pets, or, better yet, not using them.

“This is the time of year for celebration, and with a few precautions, we can ensure we spend our holidays with our family members – furry and otherwise – and not with our veterinarian, unless, of course, you have a veterinarian in the family,” quips Voutilainen.

Voutilainen reminds Deltans that the Delta Community Animal Shelter has many cats, dogs and small animals in need of families to call their own. If you are looking to adopt, drop by the shelter between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. during the week, or between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekends. Animals can also be viewed on Facebook or at