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 previous kitty, “Willie,” was so interested anytime the bow box came out of the closet.  Once the tree was up he couldn’t get enough of poking his nose in boxes, pulling out tissue paper — and he LOVED ribbon.

There are definite dangers when it comes to the holidays. While “avoiding” may be too strong a word — because 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.  

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 pets out of the room with the tree, unless they are 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, which they do 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 they can ingest artificial snow if you use it at all. Stick to other forms of tree decor for the sake of your pet.

Edible ornaments are also a no-no.  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’s best to place these ornaments on areas of the tree where your pet cannot reach.

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 and receive an electrical shock. In general, wherever you choose to place strands of little lights, make sure the ends of the extension cords are tucked away so your pet cannot get to them.

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 polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, and those also cause health concerns. 

Also, please be mindful that holly berries are considered potentially toxic if consumed in large amounts.

Using delicate or treasured ornaments that hold a lot of sentimental value around pets may not be your best idea. 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.

If you are looking for that perfect four-legged family member, stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society at 24 Cross St.,, Presque Isle.  Our hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closing for lunch from 12 to 12:30.  

Please be responsible: spay and neuter your pets.

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

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