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Ten tips to keep pets safe during Christmas

Let’s face it. Your pets are family and as a pet owner, you want to keep them safe. During the holidays your pet’s normal environment is disrupted ten fold. There are delicate glass ornaments, dangerous plants, ribbons and bows and lights that can be chewed. (Remember the Griswold’s cat?) Let’s not forget, the Christmas tree? Here are ten tips to keep them safe this holiday season as well as, keep them out of the vets office.

1. Make sure your Christmas tree is in a stable base. Cats are natural born climbers and there is no better temptation then your Christmas tree. Since cats are naturally curious, a little patience on your part and a spray bottle with water may aid in training your cat to avoid the tree. Simply spray them with water when they approach the tree. This is a safer alternative to letting them climb and possibly tipping it over.

2. Tinsel adds a nice touch to any tree, unfortunately, it also attracts your mischief maker. Hang tinsel out of reach or avoid it altogether. Should your pet eat tinsel, it can potentially block their intestines. This is a sure way to visit your vet during the holiday season.

3. A tree without lights on the lower branches sounds like something out of a Charlie Brown special. The problem with stringing your own lights is your pet may get tangled up. They can also cause burns. Additionally, your pet may get shocked by biting the wire. Consider an artificial tree that has the lights woven into the tree design. This ensures there are no loose wires for your feline or canine to become tangled with.

4. Ornaments need to be secured tightly to the branches. The wire hooks can be twisted around the branch securing the ornament tightly. Broken ornaments may injure your pet’s paws, or worse yet, their mouth.

5. If you are planning a live Christmas tree this year, keep the area around the tree free and clear of pine needles. They may not seem dangerous but, needles cause stomach upset and can puncture your pet’s intestines if eaten.

6. Holly is poisonous to dogs and cats. If using holly to decorate your home, keep it in an area your pet cannot reach. Poinsettias can cause nausea and vomiting if eaten as well. Keep these away from your pets at all cost. Consider fake ones if you really must have them.

7. Candy canes, chocolates and popcorn strings hung on a tree is tempting fate and your pets. These snack like ornaments are just too tempting for pets and humans alike. Fido will surely tug at them. Not to mention, they are also potential choking hazards to pets and small children.

8. Burning candles should be placed on high shelves or mantels, out of your pet’s reach. Never leave candles unsupervised, ever. Pet or no pet, a lit candle is nothing to be left unattended. Keep your cat away from any areas with open flames. Homes with fireplaces or wood stoves should use screens to avoid burns.

9. Exposed indoor or outdoor wires should be secured to the wall or ran underneath a carpet that will not be stepped on. Exterior wires should be secured according to manufacturers directions. If in doubt, forgo the lights.

10. Wrapping paper, string, ribbon, plastic pieces or cloth could all cause intestinal blockages. Your pets will be naturally curious if you are sitting on the floor while wrapping gifts. Cats may want to play with ribbons or wrapping paper as it rustles. A safer bet is to wrap your gifts at a table or in a closed room away from your pets and the prying eyes of children.

These tips are for your pet’s safety and certainly do not constitute a guarantee that your pet might not be harmed. Ultimately, it is your responsibility as a pet owner to keep your fur babies safe and sound. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.