Holiday Hazards

Christmas Tree

 

Most dog and cat owners are aware that the holidays can be a dangerous time for our furry companions – I had a cat who used to eat all ribbons. My Christmas tree looked so sad with boring packages beneath it. That is, until I got a cat who ate the tree. So bye-bye Christmas tree and branches all around the house.

Our exotic pets have some of the same issues. Birds, rabbits and rodents should be on the lookout for the following:

  •  Holiday trees and Plants can have toxins in or on them – some trees are sprayed with chemicals and the water at the base may have fertilizers in it. Toxic holiday plants include
    • Chrysanthemum
    • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
    • Holly (Iles spp.)
    • Mistletoe (Viscum album)
    • Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
    • Yew (Cephalotaxus sp.)
    • Lilies, Laurel and Christmas Rose

Poinsettia

Poinsettia

Mistletoe Berries

Mistletoe Berries

Yew

Yew

  •  Decorations run the gamut of possible problems.
    • Physical hazards such as getting stuck in them and wounds due to broken glass or metal parts.
    • Holiday decorations are often cheaply made and may be contaminated with toxic metals.
    • Tinsel and ribbons can cause obstruction in the stomach or intestines.
    • Metallic wrapping paper can be either a toxin or cause an obstruction.
Ribbons Wicker lights Metallic Gifts
  •  Electric Wires are often in new and fun spaces – they may cause burns and even death if a pet bites down too hard.
  •  Fumes and Smoke.
    • Scented candles, room fresheners, ornaments…
    • Extra household cleaning with strong chemicals
    • Avoid fire logs that contain toxins or smoky irritants which are a special hazard to birds.
  •  Cooking – holidays often mean an increase in kitchen activity
    • More pots of boiling water, hot pans, cookies or candies available for stealing.
    • The usual suspects should not be shared with pets (caffeine, avocado, alcohol and chocolate).
    • Avoid novel or excessive food sharing because these can cause GI upset.
  •  Holiday Stress is not just for humans.
    • Novel decorations, increased activity, visitors and guests can all be upsetting for some of our more shy pets.
    • Guests that are not familiar with birds, rabbits and rodents may not be able to read their body language – and no one wants a “bite-fling” injury!
    • I recommend discouraging furry visitors – unless your pet has previously been introduced – because the holidays are hard enough without bringing a predator into the home.

 

Just in case – know when your veterinarian is open (or closed) this December/January, know which emergency clinic you can take your exotic pet to, and know the poison control phone number ASPCA (888) 426-4435.

ASPCA

One thought on “Holiday Hazards

  1. Leila:

    Once again full of good information for all kinds of pets and their interaction with each other. Yes, Christmas is stress full for all of us. Even us fur-less humans.

    Ciao,

    Bruce Marcucci, DDS Union Square Dentistry 490 Post Street, #1124 San Francisco, CA 94102 Office: 415-956-3420 Cell: 415-203-4684 Fax: 415-956-9573 bdmdds@gmail.com

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