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Metro Newsroom

Metro Animal Services Offers Tips to Keep Pets Safe and Healthy This Holiday Season

Monday December 21, 2009

(LOUISVILLE, December 21, 2009) – Ho, ho, ho the holidays are here! Tis’ the season to keep your furry friends in mind while you are decorating and entertaining. There are four main areas of concern this time of year; plants and flowers, Christmas trees, food and electrical cords and lights. Many of these common holiday items can be harmful to your pets.

“Metro Animal Services is always concerned about the safety of the animals in our community and that includes the special challenges presented by the holidays,” said Jackie Gulbe, assistant director for community relations.

Plants & Flowers

Poinsettias – There is no definitive consensus regarding the level of toxicity of these plants, but why take a chance. If ingested, poinsettias can irritate the mouth and stomach and may cause mild vomiting and diarrhea.

Mistletoe – has the potential to cause heart problems. If it is ingested it may cause gastrointestinal distress.

Holly – if eaten can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and lethargy.

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree can be a nightmare waiting to happen. Make sure that your Christmas tree is secured so that it won’t come tumbling down. Securing your tree with fishing line to a wall or baseboard can prevent a disaster. Glass ornaments, ribbons and tinsel can be very, very dangerous if your pet eats them. Glass can cut or puncture the intestinal tract and tinsel and ribbon can cause an obstruction in the bowels. Be sure to keep all breakable or edible ornaments closer to the top of the tree. The water that keeps a live tree fresh can cause stomach upset due to the fertilizers and sap leaching from the tree. Stagnant water can also be a source of bacteria that could upset your pet’s digestive system.

Electrical Cords and Lights

Extra electrical cords are usually a necessity around the holidays. But, they need to be kept out of reach of your curious pets. Try taping the cords down to the floor or along the baseboard to make them harder for pets to access. Strands of lights can be interesting to pets. Chewing any of these can result in electrocution. Please be cautious.


It wouldn’t be the holidays without all of the goodies and cheer. Chocolate is particularly dangerous to our pets, the darker the more dangerous. Chocolate can be deadly! Fatty foods can also cause distress. Avoid “treating” your pets with the leftovers, especially fatty skins. Bones from turkeys and hams are not suitable for pets. Turkey bones can be brittle and lodge in the intestine if ingested. Ham bones are also not suitable chew treats. Before everyone sits down to eat try feeding your pets their meal with a little added treat of a little canned food. Feeding them first will help ease the guilt of not giving in to treats from the table.

A lot of you are aware of these hazards. Please spread the word by passing this along to some of your pet owning friends or co-workers. It could save a lot of grief or even a life.