the season in B.C., and as British Columbians gear up to celebrate, the
BC SPCA is reminding pet guardians that the holidays – and the colder
weather – can be hazardous for pets.
“We want everyone to enjoy the
holidays, including the furry members of your family,” says Lorie
Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA.
Holiday pet safety tips include:
• Bones are Bad: Avoid
giving bones to your dogs or cats, particularly turkey bones.
Poultry bones easily splinter and can cause serious injury, while
bone fragments can cause intestinal blockages or lacerations.
• Thoughtful Treats: Chocolate and other sweets should not be given
to animals. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that can be
deadly to cats and dogs, though not harmful to humans. The best
thing you can do for your pet over the holidays is to keep them on
their regular diet. Look for healthy animal treats instead of giving
your animal companions cookies, rich snacks or sweets meant for
• Poisonous Plants: Many popular holiday plants are poisonous to
animals including mistletoe, holly, ornamental pepper and Christmas
rose. Remember to keep these plants out of reach of pets –
especially birds. Poinsettias are not poisonous to pets or people.
This has been a long-standing rumour perpetuated for decades. Some
pets may have a sensitivity to the latex contained in the plant and
may get diarrhea or vomit.
• Tinsel is Trouble: Having a Christmas tree and pets can be
troublesome. Ensure the tree is well-secured and try to place the
decorations above paw height. Using string to hang decorations
instead of hooks helps, as hooks can be easily dislodged. If
possible, use non-breakable ornaments. Avoid using tinsel or angel
hair – cats and dogs will ingest both, which can cause intestinal
problems. Cords for lights should be made inaccessible to pets,
especially chewing puppies and exploring kittens. If you add
chemicals to the water reservoir of your Christmas tree to help it
last longer, keep in mind those chemicals are toxic to animals and
keep the reservoir covered.
• Toy Watch: Avoid purchasing pet toys with small or soft pieces
that can be chewed and swallowed. Nylon bones tend to splinter less
than plastic ones. Be sure to inspect pet toys regularly and discard
As the holidays near, the
temperature drops below freezing in many parts of the province, making
the season not so merry for outdoor animals.
“Cold weather conditions can pose a serious risk to your pet,” Chortyk
notes. “Extra caution should be taken to ensure that your pet stays
warm, safe and healthy this winter.”
Some cold weather safety tips:
• Make sure you thoroughly
clean the pads of your pet’s paws after they’ve walked on sidewalks
or roads to remove any coarse salt that can cause irritation. For
your own sidewalk, choose a pet-friendly, non-corrosive de-icing
compound readily available through retail outlets.
• Use pet-safe propylene-based antifreeze instead of ethylene glycol
antifreeze, which is toxic to pets and wildlife. A mere tablespoon
of ethylene glycol antifreeze can kill a cat or small dog.
• “Think and Thump” before starting your car. Cats and wildlife
gravitate to warm engines during cold weather. Banging on the hood
before getting into your car can avoid a tragic ending for an animal
seeking refuge from the cold.
• The SPCA is vehemently opposed to keeping pets permanently
outdoors and strongly urges pet guardians to keep animals inside
during cold weather. However, if domestic or farm animals are kept
outside, ensure they have access to shelter that is off the ground,
provides protection from wind, cold and dampness and is properly
insulated. Regular checks to ensure drinking water has not frozen
over are also a must.
• Sadly, every community has many abandoned and free-roaming cats
who are forced to fend for themselves. The struggle for survival
becomes even more desperate when temperatures drop below freezing.
Ensure your own cat is protected from the elements and be on the
look-out for abandoned cats who need shelter, food, water or medical
“When the winter weather comes,
we need to take extra care to ensure that our pets and the animals in
our community are safe,” says Chortyk.
About the BC SPCA
The BC SPCA is a non-profit organization funded primarily by public
donations. Our mission is to prevent cruelty and to promote the welfare
of animals through a wide range of services, including cruelty
investigations, emergency rescue and treatment, sheltering and adoption
of homeless and abused animals, humane education, advocacy, farm animal
welfare, spay/neuter programs, and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.
For more information, visit
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