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Health eTips is produced by the staff of the St. Charles County Department of Public Health. The department consists of three divisions - Environmental Health and Protection, Health Services and Humane Services - that provide a wide range of services focused on enhancing the well-being of this community.

If you have questions about the Department of Public Health or have suggestions on public health topics you'd like to see explored in this blog, please email us.

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Dec 06

Pets During the Holidays

Posted on December 6, 2017 at 11:16 AM by Doug Bolnick


The holiday season brings good times and cheer to our homes. While we want to include our furry friends in the celebration, owners must recognize that these experiences can cause injury or stress to our pets.

Decorate Wisely
dog_christmas_lightsWhile a tree is often the focal point for Christmas decorations, the flashing lights, bright colors and new smells can pique your pet’s interest. Edible decorations like cookies, cranberries or popcorn strings can often be enticing to pets. Shiny, dangling ornaments and tinsel draw cats’ attention. Tugging or batting at these could topple trees, and broken pieces can injure paws or mouths. To be safe, anchor your tree securely.

Pets are easily injured by decorative lights, which can cause burns or shocks when cords are chewed. To prevent this, keep these covered and secured, or invest in pet-proof extension cords. Another alternative is to spray the wiring with chew deterrent products.

While festive, many holiday plants can harm pets. The fallen needles from natural trees can be harmful if ingested, and tree water can be toxic if it includes fertilizers or preservatives. Mistletoe berries are highly toxic to your pets, and holly causes nausea, vomiting and other ills. Eating lilies can cause kidney failure in cats, and poinsettias can upset your pet’s digestive system.

A final concern is unattended candles. Pets may get a burn or start a home fire by knocking over lit candles. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders and place displays away from your pet’s reach. If you own birds, be aware that some candle fumes can be harmful.

Chose Good Treats

Before giving into those pleading eyes and feeding leftovers or treats, be aware of the dangers or feeding “people food” to your pet. While tasty to us, fatty meats and indigestible bones can cause choking. And, remember that many of our favorite holiday foods and spices — chocolate, onions, garlic and grapes — can be toxic to dogs and cats.
Little Girl with Cat

Show Your Love

Make the holidays special for your pet by showing extra love and attention. A long walk will help you and your pet relieve stress, enjoy fresh air and exercise. If you’re stuffing a stocking, dogs often enjoy indestructible toys or chew treats, and cats delight in a warm bed or new scratching post.

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Seatbelt use by family