Animal column: Christmas and holiday pet tips |

Animal column: Christmas and holiday pet tips

Niki Congero
Tribune Opinion Columnist
Heavenly is a sweet female Pit. She is about 2 years old, good with people and well behaved. She does, however, have a lot of energy so she does come with free training. She would be best in a home with no other pets or children. Please come visit her at The El Dorado County Animal Services, 530-573-7925. For Spay-Neuter services and other support, call the Lake Tahoe Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 530-542-2857. Update on last week’s pet of the week: Arllington, last week’s pup ,is still looking for his forever home.
Courtesy photo |

First lets tackle the “to eat a Christmas tree or to not eat a Christmas tree” issue. The tree itself is not particularly dangerous if a few needles are ingested; it will most like come right up via kitty or doggie vomiting.

The bigger concern is the stagnant tree water, as it is a breeding ground for bacteria. Your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should they drink it.

Make sure you securely anchor your Christmas tree, too, so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet.

Lastly but most importantly, the biggest no-no with your Christmas tree is the tinsel. Kitties and doggies love this sparkling, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your branches with something other than tinsel. If you suspect your pet has ingested tinsel or anything else from the Christmas tree, contact your veterinarian right away, the sooner the better. Obstructions that go untreated are often fatal.

There are also some holiday plants that are not safe at all — forget the mistletoe and holly, Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.

Regarding all the yummy treats we eat over the holiday season, by now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol; but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising fur kid will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans. Also fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry family member.

When it comes time for that holiday party, take care of Fluffy. If your pets are people-friendly and your guests would like to give your pets extra attention, invite them to partake in a nice play or petting session. It is a good idea, however, to give your pets a room of their own, a quiet place to retreat complete with water, food and a comfy place to snuggle.

Make sure all (even your indoor-only) pets have collars and tags with correct contact information; with all the activity around the holidays it’s easy for them to slip out and get lost.


The extremely popular Tahoe Pets 2016 Calendars have arrived. Be sure to get yours before they are all gone. Come by the office at 884 Emerald Bay Road or order one online. They make fabulous gifts for friends and family.

Hopeful Henry is a column managed by Niki Congero, executive director of Lake Tahoe Humane Society & S.P.C.A. Submit questions or letters via e-mail to or by mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. For more information, visit SocietySPCA, or

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