Keep children, pets safe around the holidays

Keep children, pets safe around the holidays (Image 1)

It's December and for many of you that means you're dusting off the ornaments and putting up holiday decorations. Though decorating is often a family tradition it can lead to some unexpected dangers.

You may have heard about the dangers of poinsettias for cats and dogs but according to Dr. Matthew Stone of Myrtle Beach Animal Hospital many everyday holidays items can also pose a threat.

“Some of the plants can be toxic that we see,” Stone said. “Missile Toe, Poinsettias, Hollies, Lilies can all be toxic to pets so you want to be careful with those.”

According to the veterinarian,  the severity of the toxin varies with the plant: poinsettias often lead to just an upset stomach, whereas lilies can cause far worse damage.

“Lilies are actually particularly toxic to cats,” Stone explained. “We see kidney failure actually with lilies so you have to be really careful.”

The ornaments you cover the tree in can also pose a threat to cats and dogs. Stone suggests keeping decorations out of the reach of furry friends, especially tinsel.

“Cats will swallow that and it can actually accordion in their intestines and that's a pretty serious problem,” he said.

Stone says not only are trees and ornaments a danger for pets, but stress can cause unforeseen issues. If you have lots of people over for a party it may be best to separate your animals into a different room.

The abundance of food spreads at those holiday get-togethers should be monitored as well.

“They're getting food they're not normally accustomed to. Whether it's high-fat foods, chocolates, things like that. It can really do a number on their intestinal tract,” Stone said.

The vet also suggests being especially careful to keep your pets out of chocolate deserts.

The holidays can also present dangers for young children.

“We bring in plants, ornaments, light bulbs, things that can attract a child to them and children put lots of things in their mouth because they're curious about it,” explained Jill Michaels, the Director of the Palmetto Poison Center. “That's one of the ways they check out their environment.”

Michaels told News13 that in a report back in 2010 and she says not only are ornaments and lights still dangerous for children, but alcohol can also present a danger. Drinks like wine could look like juice to a child and even a small sip could be dangerous for smaller kids.

Michaels said a more recent danger is small button batteries. They are in many greeting cards and small toys and if a child puts it in his or her mouth it can cause burns or present a choking hazard.

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