Columbus veterinarian Keri Riddick of Benning Animal Hospital says people would not believe how many Christmas ornament hooks she removes from animals who have swallowed them.
It is a lot.
"Hooks are sharp. They can perforate the intestines," Riddick said.
The veterinarian said animals will eat just about anything, and that makes the holiday season a particularly dangerous time for pets.
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Riddick offered some safety tips for pet owners.
One is to keep dogs away from chocolate, of which there is usually an abundance this time of year.
"It makes the heart rate go up," she explained.
Dogs that swallow chocolate might suffer from tremors or seizures. They will likely experience vomiting and diarrhea.
"Some people know about the dangers of chocolate and think it is okay to give the animal a sugar-free treat, but if sweetened with xylitol, that is also bad," Riddick said.
The veterinarian added that if there are cookies or candy in a package under a tree, pets will get to it quickly.
And if they eat the ribbon on the packages, that could cause gastrointestinal difficulties.
Tinsel on the tree looks cool, but if your pet likes it too much, it can lead to an obstructed digestive tract that needs surgery to correct.
Ornaments should not be kept low on the tree where they can be easily knocked off. The sharp edges of an ornament knocked off and broken can be harmful to pets.
Poinsettias are not deadly, as some believe, Riddick said. Poinsettias are, however, toxic and will make the pet ill. Holly and mistletoe will cause problems, including severe vomiting, as will pine needles. Potpourri is poisonous for dogs and cats.
Lillies can be deadly to a cat. "They can cause kidney failure," Riddick said.
She said most animals will not drink the stagnant Christmas tree water, but if there is some fertilizer in the water, it will make a pet ill.
"Just keep their water dish filled," she said.
She said people need to make sure the Christmas tree is secure so a pet can not bring it down.
"Cats like shiny ornaments and will climb to get them," Riddick said.
Also, don't play with fire. "Do not leave a lighted candle unattended," Riddick said. "A pet may be burned or it could knock the tree over and start a fire."
Alcohol and pets don't mix.
"It is a time for parties. Be careful not to leave alcoholic drinks around, and if one is spilled, it needs to be cleaned up quickly."
Make sure you and your guests keep all medications in a safe place, she said.
Pets also will eat cigarettes, which are toxic.
"Pets should not be sharing any of the holiday meal or treats. Make sure your guests know that," she said.
Riddick said a big threat to animal safety is that pets can escape the house when guests come in.
"If they go out the door, they may get hit by a car. That happens more than people think," Riddick said. "All the people and loud noises of the holiday season can upset an animal. It is a good idea to put pets in a separate room or the backyard during activities, someplace, where they are comfortable."