Deck the halls but be mindful of Fido
Question: I am celebrating the holidays with a new puppy -- my first dog -- as well as my boyfriend's cat. I've heard Christmas trees can make pets sick. Is it true?
Answer: Pine needles can cause serious problems to a pet's digestive track. Tree preservative can also be dangerous to both cats and dogs. A little creativity with pet gates, thoughtful tree placement and an attentive family can help you manage your new pup's access to trouble.
Q: Are there other plants to be cautious of?
A: Pups enjoy getting their paws into everything, so plants to be mindful of are mistletoe and poinsettias, which can give them a major tummy ache -- but contrary to popular belief are not poisonous.
The poinsettia's bad reputation is the result of a 1944 report by a Honolulu physician who stated that in 1919 a Fort Shafter 2-year-old had died after eating a single poinsettia leaf. The doctor later admitted he had not confirmed the fatality and that the incident was hearsay.
Q: What about the lights and decorations on the tree? Can they be dangerous?
A: While lovely to look at, tinsel, glass ornaments and garlands can be choking hazards. Lit candles could also be problematic for the puppy that pounces or the cat that lounges on countertops.
Teething pups love to chew, so pay attention to their access to electrical cords and examine your lights for defects, as well as loose or frayed wires.
Q: Is it all right for a dog or cat to share some of the special treats we make for the holidays?
A: Save the people treats for your friends. Sugar, fat and salt can wreak havoc on your pet's digestive system. Also, keep in mind that there could be treats under the Christmas tree that your insatiably curious and hungry pup might help himself to. Dogs have a heightened sense of smell, and they know what's beneath the bows and wrapping. Chocolate, raisins and grapes, and products made with the sugar substitute Xylitol are all dangerous.
The Hawaiian Humane Society welcomes questions by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
. Indicate "Pet Ohana" in the subject line. Or, write "Pet Ohana," Hawaiian Humane Society, 2700 Waialae Ave., Honolulu 96826.