The winter holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness. However, amidst the festive decorations and cheerful gatherings, it’s crucial for pet owners to be aware of potential dangers that can lurk in the tinsel-draped corners of our homes. Here are a few of the common hazards of tinsel, ribbon, electrocution, strangulation, and hypothermia, providing insights on how to keep our pets safe during this peaceful time of year.

Tinsel Trouble

Tinsel, with its sparkling allure, can turn a Christmas tree into a mesmerizing playground for our feline and canine companions. However, what may seem like harmless fun can quickly take a serious turn. Cats, in particular, are notorious for batting at and chewing on these decorative strands. Unfortunately, if ingested, tinsel can wreak havoc on a pet’s digestive system.

The thin, flexible nature of tinsel can allow it to easily wind around the intestines, creating a potentially life-threatening obstruction. Symptoms of tinsel ingestion include vomiting, lethargy, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the obstruction.

To safeguard your pet, consider alternatives such as pet-friendly decorations or place ornaments out of their reach. Additionally, closely monitor your pet’s interactions with the tree and promptly address any signs of interest in tinsel.

Ribbon Woes

The colorful curls of ribbon may add a festive touch to gifts and decorations, but these seemingly innocent adornments can pose significant risks to our pets. Cats, known for their love of batting at dangling objects, may be particularly drawn to ribbons. However, if ingested, ribbon can lead to choking or, more critically, gastrointestinal obstruction.

To mitigate the risks, secure ribbons tightly on gifts and avoid leaving loose ends that pets might find tempting. Consider using cloth ribbons instead of the shiny, metallic varieties, as they are less likely to cause harm if ingested. Always supervise your pets when ribbons are present, and promptly discard any small, chewable pieces.

Electrocution Risks

Holiday lights and electrical decorations can transform our homes into winter wonderlands, but the cords that power these displays can pose a serious threat to curious pets. Dogs and cats may be enticed to chew on wires, leading to electric shocks, burns, or even fires.

To minimize the risk of electrocution, ensure that all cords are securely fastened and hidden from your pet’s reach. Consider using pet-proof covers for electrical outlets and investing in cord management systems to keep wires organized and out of sight. If you notice any signs of chewing or fraying, promptly replace damaged cords to prevent potential hazards.

“I told you, you had too many plugs in one outlet!”

Art Smith

(National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation)

Strangulation Dangers

Decorations like stockings, garlands, and hanging ornaments contribute to the festive atmosphere, but they can also pose a strangulation risk for pets, especially cats. Cats, with their innate curiosity and love of climbing, may inadvertently become entangled in hanging decorations, leading to serious injuries or even fatalities.

Be mindful of where you place these decorations, keeping them well out of your pet’s reach. Avoid hanging decorations in areas where your pet likes to explore, and secure decorations securely to prevent accidental entanglements. Supervise your pets closely when they are around festive displays, and intervene immediately if you notice any signs of distress or entanglement.

Hypothermia Awareness

While many holiday celebrations take place indoors, winter also brings opportunities for outdoor activities with our pets. However, exposure to cold temperatures can pose risks of hypothermia, especially for smaller or short-haired breeds.

When venturing outdoors, keep outings brief, and be mindful of your pet’s tolerance to the cold. Dress them in warm, weather-appropriate layers, including sweaters or jackets for added insulation. Provide sheltered spaces where your pets can retreat from the cold, and avoid extended exposure to harsh weather conditions.

Monitor your pets for signs of hypothermia, including shivering, lethargy, disorientation, and cold extremities. If you suspect your pet is experiencing hypothermia, seek veterinary attention promptly.

While the winter holiday season is a time of warmth and joy, it’s essential for pet owners to be vigilant about potential hazards that can arise in the festive decorations and activities. By staying informed and taking preventive measures, we can create a safe and enjoyable environment for our furry family members. This season, let’s ensure that our pets are not just part of the celebration but are also protected from potential holiday hazards. Keep the holidays peaceful and magical.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Oath Animal Hospital! We’re looking forward to a great start to the new year, too!

– Dr. Funk


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