Kids & Pets
January 23, 2018
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Holiday hazards for four-legged pets

By: Mickey Zeldes
December 22, 2017
All About Pets

What holiday is the most dangerous for our pets? That’s a tough one! Certainly, the 4th of July is the scariest for them. Many pets bolt and are lost during the noise and confusion of fireworks.  Thanksgiving with all the food is a gastronomical nightmare for our furry food thieves. Many dogs end up in the emergency room with pancreatitis after stealing the turkey! Christmas has that plus many other dangers that I think rank it up at the top of the list.

Besides the holiday dinner with turkey, roasts, ham and other high fat foods there is usually tons of cookies and candy around. We all know that chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats but you can’t convince them to leave it alone! Too many people assume that if it is boxed and wrapped and hiding under the tree that it is safe from our pets. Unfortunately, they can easily smell the chocolate through the paper and a box is nothing for a determined dog. And there is something about chocolate that really appeals to most dogs. Better to keep those gifts high out of reach. 

The tree itself presents a challenge to those with pets. I’ve seen some creative solutions on Facebook to keep pets away including putting the tree in an ex-pen and only decorating the top half! Cats, of course, love to climb and what could be better than an indoor tree! There’s a funny comic where a dog says to the cat while looking at the holiday tree, “So Santa brought me an indoor bathroom. What did you get?” Truth is the standing water around the tree base (even if not pee) is pretty nasty and can get our pets sick if they drink it. You absolutely have to rig up a way to cover that part!  

If you have dogs and cats forget about stringing popcorn for a tree decoration! Tinsel is almost irresistible for cats – it gleams and glitters and flutters in the breeze! But if a cat ingests it, like any long string, it can tangle up and cause the intestines to telescope which is a life- threatening situation. All the ornaments and garlands can cause a blockage if accidentally ingested and it does happen. One year my Bernese mountain dog ate two cat toys and had a blockage. We showed off his 33 staples and the $4,000 toys after the vet surgically removed them - not that we were proud but to serve as a warning!

Other hazards include candles, mistletoe and poinsettias, strings of lights and just about everything else holiday related. You could really become a scrooge if you are serious about keeping dangers away from your pets. Or you just really need to use some precautions and limit where and what you use for decorations. After that expensive vet bill, I guess I am a bit over the top with caution.

I actually do love this time of year – when I’m not being paranoid about the risk of everything.  With some care and awareness, we can all be a little merrier this time of the year. Hope you all have a very safe and happy holiday!

Upcoming Events: 

There’s still a few openings in our Kidz ‘n Critters Winter Camp. Your kids will have fun while learning about responsible pet care and spending time socializing with our shelter animals.

Session 1, Thurs./Fri, Dec. 28 & 29 for 3rd & 4th graders

Session 2, Thurs./Fri, Jan. 4 & 5 for 5th & 6th graders

Sessions run from 8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Cost is $50 per camper.

Registration is limited - applications are available at the RP Animal Shelter.


Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at