The Pet Lover's Guide to Holiday Safety

SafetySkillsT shares holiday safety precautions for pet owners.

When considering safety precautions to take during the holidays do not forget about some of the most cherished members of any family, pets. Pets are very similar to young children in the extra measures that need to be taken to ensure their health and safety. Here are some potential holiday hazards to be aware of when it comes to these four-legged friends.

Fancy Foods

Holiday cooking is a luxury that goes with the season, but for animals it can lead to health problems. Do not let animals eat anything with chocolate (can cause gastrointestinal upset, heart arrhythmia and seizures), grapes, raisins or currants (can cause kidney failure) and avoid giving meat scraps under the table.

Potpourri

Filling a home with an inviting fragrance is fine for humans, but can cause major problems in pets. Some potpourri contains materials that are harmful when ingested, so keep it out of reach of animals. Liquid potpourri can be extremely dangerous for a variety of reasons. The oils can be toxic and cause severe chemical burns if licked, fever, difficulty breathing and tremors. The simmer pots used for this type of potpourri can easily burn an animal if contact is made.

Holiday Flowers and Plants

The most popular holiday flowers and plants, such as mistletoe and holly, are toxic when eaten. The best bet for animal lovers is to decorate with plastic, silk or non irritating flowers and plants.

Decorations

The most dangerous holiday decoration for animals is the Christmas tree. Broken ornaments need to be cleaned up immediately to avoid cuts on paws or pieces being swallowed. If a pet chews on Christmas tree lights, medical attention is needed immediately. Some lights include chemicals that can irritate the eyes, skin, lungs and gastrointestinal tract. The lights also create a danger of electric shock. Lastly, the dreaded tinsel which is especially threatening to cats. Tinsel can wrap around the tongue, block the airway passage, get caught in the stomach and cause severe damage to the intestinal tract. Oklahoma City resident Elizabeth Haas, 25, learned this the hard way when her cat had to undergo abdominal surgery due to tinsel.

"It was horrible," said Haas. "Nothing makes you feel worse than finding out that you did something that hurt your cat. She came out of it just fine but it could have ended so much worse."

Making simple changes around the home this holiday can save beloved pets from unnecessary trips to the vet.

"It makes it so much easier to decorate around the holidays knowing what is safe to have around my dog," said Loralyn Putze (24, Norman).

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