The Showcase Magazine - Articles

Hidden Holiday Dangers

By Mary Lou Hanlon

Holiday 2017 is upon us! Santa is making his list and checking it twice! Shopping, party planning, decorating, cooking, gift wrapping and family gatherings consume us. It is a joyous time of year but unfortunately it also has many hidden dangers for our furry family members.

Decorations can pose significant threats to our dear cats and dogs. Imagine their excitement when they realize not only is there a tree inside their home but one that is filled with wonderful colorful balls! While their interest may appear cute at first if left alone for a moment your beloved furry friend can not only damage your beautiful tree but get very hurt in the process.

Ingesting holiday ornaments can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea, vomiting, and depression depending on if the item is passed in the animal’s stool naturally. If it gets stuck in the animal’s intestine surgery can become the only option.

A real favorite during the holiday season, shiny tinsel and beautiful ribbon is extremely attractive to our pets that can prove to be deadly. When swallowed, these types of materials can cut thru the intestines as the bowels contract. If not caught in time, infection of the stomach cavity can develop and prognosis is not good.

Those twinkling lights decorating your home and tree while beautiful can pose hidden dangers to our pets. Just one bite can result in an electrical shock causing burns, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rate, loss of consciousness and death.

“O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, How lovely are,thy branches”, live Christmas trees are beautiful and we tend to them to keep them green and fragrant for as long as possible. That tree stand you are filling with water and tree preservative can be a source of curiosity for your pet. If you are adding any type of preservative to the water check the label to see if it is pet friendly. Animals are quite attracted to foreign water sources and do not discriminate between healthy and poisonous liquids.

Let the mistletoe be a good excuse to get a smooch from the one that you admire but keep it clearly out of the way of your four-legged friend. Mistletoe and holly can be toxic to animals. Your cat or dog vomiting and having diarrhea are sure to put a squash on that romantic feeling in the air.

What better time than the holidays for your dog to show you he isn’t the least bit concerned of committing the sin of gluttony. Well-meaning friends and relatives who want to be sure your family pet is also enjoying himself during the holidays might just be giving your Fido or Miss Kitty one too many snacks. Do not expect your animal to politely turn way. They will instead graciously chow down and in their adoring way look at them pleading “more please!” Let us also not forget the many hams, turkeys and roasts that get swept off the table by the unattended canine leaving the host embarrassed, the guests hungry and the dog sick.

With a bit of organization and pre-planning all the hazards mentioned above can be avoided. If your animals are not trained to withstand the many holiday temptations make sure you have a safe place for them to be. While it might seem a bit inconvenient it pales in comparison to having to rush your animal to the emergency facility Christmas Eve.

For an easy healthy holiday treat for your pets, soak your pets kibble in a little water until you can mash it up and it forms a “dough”. Cut into festive shapes and bake until crispy! Critter cookies!

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Mary Lou Hanlon is a longtime resident of Warren and is the owner of PetMinders, Inc, The Kennel Alternative. PetMinders has been providing professional pet sitting and dog training lessons in the privacy of clients homes for over 18 years. Mary Lou is one of the nation's top agility competitors. She has competed both nationally and internationally and has received numerous awards in both dog obedience and agility. She can be reached at 908-755-PETS (7387), via email at or visit the website