What looks pretty for the holidays could be trouble for pets

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - The owner of a local Christmas tree farm says he sold about 700 trees this past weekend.  While living trees may be beautiful for the holiday, they can be a source of trouble for the four-legged members of your family.

The quintessential sign of the holidays, decorated with all things shiny and sparkly, may be alluring to four-legged creatures.


Honey, a yellow lab, greets families at Valley Christmas Tree Plantation in Madison County. (Photo by Beth Jett, WHNT News 19)


Local veterinarians have a holiday "heads-up" about pet safety.

"It can be irritating if a pet decides to ingest it," said Dr. Jennifer Hahs of Apollo Animal Hospital, talking about the needles on a live tree.  "That is more likely to be your younger pets who are still into chewing a lot of things or a cat that's very playful."

She says her office sees quite a few cases of dogs and cats who can't resist holiday cheer.

"The needles especially as the tree dries can be pretty hard and spiky," said Hahs.  "So they can be very irritating, the oils of the tree can be irritating and any kind of foreign body like that as you can imagine is hard for the pet to pass."

George Brown owns Valley Christmas Tree Plantation and says living trees must have water to stay pretty.

That water could be trouble for a curious cat or thirsty dog, if it contains additives.  Brown sells a compound that's pet-friendly.

"I've had many, many customers over 39 years buy the compound and say that their dog or their cat drank the water in the bowl and nothing happened," said Brown.

Aside from living trees, Dr. Hahs warns there are other potential threats to companion animals during the holidays.

"Poinsettias, ivy, holly, mistletoe," said Hahs.  All can be hazardous to a pet if ingested.

But perhaps the biggest threat to pets is all the decorations that make the tree so pretty.

"Foreign bodies as far as the ornaments," said Hahs. "You know, sometimes pets cannot resist that that looks like a toy.  And especially strings like tinsel.  That can be a very difficult problem to address in a pet if they actually swallow an ornament or a Christmas toy like that."