The Star-Herald

Pet tips for the holidays

We had a great turnout for Pictures with Santa Paws. It is always wonderful to see the many families arrive to create a lasting memory with their special pet. Our boardroom was once again magically turned into a Holiday Winter Wonderland created by our hard-working shelter staff. And thank you also to board members who pitched in to help out.

Keeping your pets safe during the holidays can be a difficult task. There are breakable ornaments, potentially dangerous plants, presents with bows and ribbons, lights that can be chewed — and who could forget the Christmas tree? A few simple pet safety steps will allow your furry family members to join in the holiday fun this year while avoiding any trips to the animal emergency room.  

When I am wrapping gifts, my kitty Willie has his little head stuck in the bow box, walking on the paper and chewing on ribbon, so it’s difficult to try to exclude him. Just try to keep an eye on your pet to eliminate the chance of them digesting any pieces that could cause intestinal blockages.

For those buying live Christmas trees this year, keep the area around the tree free and clear of pine needles. While they may not seem dangerous, the needles cause stomach upset and can irritate or puncture your pet’s intestines if ingested.

Do not put lights on the tree’s lower branches. Not only can your pet get tangled up in the lights, but they can also cause burns on both cats and dogs if the animals become entangled. Additionally, your dog or cat may inadvertently get shocked by biting through the wire. 

Ornaments need to be kept out of reach, too. In addition to being a choking and intestinal blockage hazard, shards from broken ornaments may injure paws, mouths or other parts of your pet’s body. Edible tree decorations — whether they be ornaments or popcorn strings — are pet safety time bombs waiting to happen.

Place your Christmas tree in a corner. Since cats and Christmas trees are not always the best combination, it may take some ingenuity on your part to keep both parties safe during the holiday season. Tinsel can add a nice sparkling touch to the tree, but because it could cause intestinal blockage as well, it’s best to just not use it.

 Did you know that holly and mistletoe are poisonous to dogs and cats? If you normally use these plants to decorate your home, they should be kept in an area your pet cannot reach. Poinsettias are also not a great idea, as they can cause nausea and vomiting if ingested. 

Burning candles should be placed out of your pets reach — there’s no telling where a wagging tail or curious cat may end up. Never leave candles unsupervised, and keep your cat away from any areas with open flames or wax. Homes with fireplaces should use screens to avoid accidental burns.

To prevent any accidental electrocutions, exposed indoor or outdoor wires should be taped to the walls or the sides of the house. Any wires extending away from the wall should be wrapped in hard protective plastic to make them less interesting to your cat. More helpful tips can be found on

If you are looking for a new furry family member, stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society. Our hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Please be responsible, spay and neuter your pets.

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the board of directors of Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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