What’s fun for most of us can be scary or dangerous for our pets. Here’s a few thoughts to mull over this Halloween.
Toxins – many of our exotic pets love to chew. Chocolate, sugary treats and caffeine are common items this weekend that should be kept out of reach. Keep an eye on that bowl of candy or decorations.
Costumes and Decorations – watch out for flying hazards, novel items to chew or hiding places that your little critter could get stuck in. String, buttons, toxic bits of dangling costumes or decorations are attractive but could cause serious health issues. Don’t allow access to anything you aren’t sure is healthy.
Activity – stress from the constantly ringing doorbell, loud party noises or exciting decorations that make noise can all result in an unhappy or sick pet. Make sure your pet has a quiet and calm place to wait out the storm.
Pumpkins – while pumpkins are more of a concern for the active and larger pet (dogs, cats, large bunnies) they can be a tasty treat for others (birds, turtles, tortoises….). Just make sure no toxic paints or decorations are left on the item to be eaten. Also, if that pumpkin was carved and set out a few days ago…it’s probably not something you want to eat.
Candles – the main concern here is a fire hazard if your frightened pet knocks one over. It’s never a good idea to leave unattended candles in a house.
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
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Holly (Iles spp.)
Mistletoe (Viscum album)
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Yew (Cephalotaxus sp.)
Lilies, Laurel and Christmas Rose
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.
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.