The Star-Herald

‘Tis the Season’

Twinkling lights, sparkly tinsel, brightly colored garland, and delicate ornaments – what’s not to love about holiday decorations?

My little kitty “Willie” is soooo interested anytime the bow box comes out of the closet….he has one special silver cord that he can find no matter how many places I might hide it.  And when the tree is up and packages are wrapped….he can’t get enough of poking his nose in boxes, pulling out tissue paper and he LOVES ribbon!  Annie, my other cat couldn’t be bothered to pry herself out of the comfy chair on the porch with the warm sunshine creating the halo effect all around her…She could care less about Christmas!!!

There are definite dangers when it comes to the Holidays!  While avoid may be too strong of a word, as we’re not suggesting you do away with all of these decorations completely, please be mindful of the sorts of decorations you use and their placement this holiday season.  

Dog and cat owners need to be aware of some things if they’re going to have a tree and a pet.  Some dogs tend to jump up a lot and may jump into the tree, knocking it over, breaking precious ornaments, and possibly injuring themselves. Cats have been known to climb into Christmas trees, causing the same effects. It is best to keep your pet out of the room with the tree, unless supervised. (Good luck with that one) ☺

Tinsel is possibly the most dangerous holiday decoration for your pets. If your pet ingests even a few strands of tinsel – and pets do this more often than you might guess – they are highly likely to suffer the ill, and even deadly effects of an intestinal obstruction.

Also called flocking, imitation snow on a Christmas tree can be very hazardous to pets if ingested. And since Christmas tree branches just look like fun sticks for a cat or dog to chew on, it is very likely to be ingested if you use it at all. Stick to other forms of tree décor for the sake of your pet.

Edible ornaments….of course you’re proud of your young child’s homemade macaroni art ornament. And yes, candy canes are extremely festive. But if you’re hanging these items all around your tree, you’re just asking for your pet to try and eat them. Too much sugar from the candy canes can cause a sugar rush, glue used on ornaments could be toxic, or the materials used may be poisonous or hazardous. All in all, it is best to place these ornaments on areas of the tree where your pet cannot reach.

Lit candles….This should be an obvious one, but just a reminder that lighting candles on or around a Christmas tree is extremely hazardous. Christmas trees are very flammable and a cat or dog can easily jostle the tree or knock over a candle.

When wrapping lights around a Christmas tree, keep the strands away from the very bottom where a cat or dog can easily chew on the electrical cords as this will result in an electrical shock. In general, wherever you choose to place strands of little lights, make sure the end of the extension cord is tucked away so your pet cannot get to it.

Angel hair is finely spun fiberglass that was used in vintage decorations but has since been taken off the market due to health concerns. If you have any old decorations made from angel hair, it is best to refrain from using those. There are similar looking decorations on the market now made from PVC and those also cause health concerns.

Using delicate or treasured ornaments that hold a lot of sentimental value around pets may not be your best idea. Like we’ve stated before, it is very easy for a dog or cat to jump at the tree, jostle the tree, or knock the tree over. If you can’t stand the thought of a precious family ornament breaking, either put it somewhere a pet can’t get to or be very watchful of your pet around the Christmas tree.

According to the ASPCA, holly berries are considered potentially toxic if consumed in large amounts and they may result in gastrointestinal irritation and depression of central nervous system.  Check out other helpful tips for your pets on Pet Med Facebook page!

If you are looking for that perfect 4-legged family member, stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society at 26 Cross Street, Presque Isle.  Our hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 to 4:00, closing for lunch 12 – 12:30.  Please be responsible, spay and neuter your pets!

“There’s no need for a piece of sculpture in a home that has a cat” ~ Wesley Bates

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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