The Western View: Christmas

Taylor HillmanFeatures, Western View

It’s Christmas, and as with any holiday, it’s time to think about making sure your pets survive the human festivities.


The pet experts at PetMD say that the Christmas tree is a big threat to both cats and dogs. It needs to be placed where they can’t knock it down, and the strings of lights need to be high enough that your dog or cat isn’t tempted to go after them. An animal biting through the cord is risking a shock, and if they short it out it could cause a fire.

The tinsel is just too tempting, especially for cats. If they ingest the tinsel they could suffer stomach and GI tract problems. A blocked intestine would need surgery to be fixed. Those ornaments are very tempting targets, especially for cats – be sure they are placed high enough on the tree.

The plants of Christmas can be a problem. Cyclamen, holly, and mistletoe are poisonous to dogs or cats. They should be kept away from your pet. And, by the way, Poinsettias have been getting a bad rap for years. Long thought to be poisonous, they are not harmful to pets or humans.

There are other risks your animals face with this holiday. The artificial sweetener xylitol is toxic to dogs. You’ll find it used as a replacement for sugar in foods, medicines, candy, and very commonly in chewing gum.

You may love chocolate, and your dog would too, if he gets some. But it’s bad for him, and in high doses, can be very bad, even fatal. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the greater the danger. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest problem. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and possibly death. If you suspect that your pet ate chocolate, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison helpline immediately.

Pet Poison helpline is a 24-hour animal poison control service available by phone 24 hours a day. There is a fee ($49) for the service. Their phone number is 855-764-7661.

I’m Len Wilcox and Merry Christmas from the Western View, published by AgNet West.