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Meowy Christmas and Happy Howlidays! Pet Safety Tips for the Holidays

  • Published
  • By Army Capt. Christina Elder

The holiday season is here, and for most pet parents the festivities will include our furry companions. As you and your family begin to hang the tinsel and lights, please keep in mind the dangers decorations pose to your pets. While the ornaments and knickknacks may bring cheer and vitality to your home, certain objects or plants may pose a serious threat to your pet’s health. Below you will find tips and tricks for your holiday décor to maintain both a spirited home and your pet’s safety.

Oh, Christmas Tree: First, use a proper tree stand that is adequately anchored so your tree does not tip and fall, causing potential injury to your pet. If your tree is real, avoid spilling the tree water and cover the stand with a tree skirt to prevent ingestion of the water. Tree water may contain fertilizers that can cause nausea and stomach upset. Second, consider an artificial tree instead of a real pine tree. Cut pine trees naturally shed their pine needles, which have the potential to be ingested or inhaled by your pet. Lastly, position your tree’s lights and tinsel draping away from the base to a location where pets cannot get to them.

Mistle-No and Other Plants: When ingested, certain holiday plants can be very dangerous or even fatal to your pet. Mistletoe can cause stomach and intestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Holly and poinsettias can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet. If your pet has ingested any of these plants, please call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline (listed below) for guidance.

O Holy Light: Keep the holiday glow with artificial candles. If you must keep a burning flame, such as with a menorah, always keep your candles attended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock unattended candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candleholders, placed on a stable surface. If you leave the room, put the candle out!

Electrified: Many holiday decorations require electricity. Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. Wires and batteries can deliver potentially lethal electrical shocks and can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus. Shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth and digestive tract.

It is wise to have a Holiday Pet Plan in place to ensure the safety of our beloved companions. Your plan should include having veterinary contact information at hand, keeping veterinary documents in a safe place, and taking the necessary precautions to mitigate risks for your pet. Below is useful contact information should you need veterinary care during the holidays.

KAFB Veterinary services
The U.S. Army operates a veterinary services clinic at 950 Pennsylvania SE, building 20168. The veterinary clinic provides outpatient care for privately owned animals of active duty military and retired military.

For an appointment, call 505-846-4276 or 505-846-4280. In-clinic and curbside annual exams, health certificates, senior bloodwork, and vaccinations are available.

Medication refills require 72-hour notice and a specified pick-up time.

Emergency Veterinary Clinic: There are animal emergency hospitals in the area that are open 24/7 and on holidays. Research the closest animal emergency hospital to you and put their contact information into your phone. Being prepared for an emergency could save your pet’s life.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline: The poison control hotline can provide guidance to seeking veterinary care, but cannot treat or suggest treatment to you if your pet ingests a toxic substance. Call them at 888-426-4435.

Download their free mobile app to quickly identify 300 potential everyday hazards and have access to crucial information about the severity of the problem and critical next steps.

*** This article was edited to include Kirtland AFB Veterinary services instead of Offut AFB's.