Even during Covid, there’s something about the bright lights and decorations throughout our beautiful community that makes the holidays feel like the most wonderful time of the year even in 2020. However, the merriment can quickly turn into a trip to your local veterinary emergency room if you’re not careful with seasonal décor.  Here are some common pet hazards to be aware of this season:

Holiday Plants

Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias and Christmas cactus only pose a mild threat to our pets. If they are ingested, these plants will likely cause an irritating reaction in the mouths of dogs. Cats seem to be more susceptible to irritation. A more serious threat is posed by mistletoe and holly. These festive plants can prove to be toxic to dogs and cats. Signs of mistletoe poisoning include a sudden and severe drop in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, low heart rate, and a sudden change in mental function. Ingestion of Christmas holly can result in severe gastrointestinal upset and pancreatitis due to the spiny leaves and toxic substances found in the plant. Most pets who’ve ingested too much holly will smack their lips, drool, and head shake excessively.

Decorations and other Pretty Things

The pretty ribbons, ornaments, tinsel, wrapping paper, lights and extension cords we use to make our homes shiny and bright are often mistaken as a fun new chew toy by our pets.

Most kitties can’t resist the shiny strands of decorations hanging from our Christmas trees. While it’s adorable to watch your cat frolicking with Christmas tree ornaments, the ingestion of tinsel and other string-like items such as ribbon can cause serious damage and is potentially deadly. If one end of the material gets stuck in your pet’s throat, the other end may continue to be pulled into the intestines as the body contracts. If not caught in time, infection of the stomach cavity can develop and the prognosis for recovery is poor. Pets who have ingested these stringy decorations will quickly become ill; symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, belly pain and a fever may develop.

Chewing on lights and extension cords can also cause an electrical shock if your pet is vigorous about chewing. Check your cords for any signs of bite marks and loose or frayed wires. If you have a Christmas tree in the house, check the proximity of electrical cords to your tree’s water supply. Be sure you use grounded 3-prong extension cords. Electrical shock can cause burns, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rhythm, loss of consciousness, and death. If you suspect your pet has been electrocuted, call your vet. Treatment is most effective when started as soon a possible.

These tips should help keep the season merry and bright for you and your pets! If you have an incident over the holidays and can’t get to a vet right away, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435.