Dr. Eddie Seagle.

Dr. Eddie Seagle.

“Don’t wait until the fourth Thursday in November to sit with family and friends to give thanks. Make every day a day of Thanksgiving!” — Charmaine J. Forde.

“For every beauty there is an eye somewhere to see it. For every truth there is an ear somewhere to hear it. For every love there is a heart somewhere to receive it.” — Ivan Panin.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs in to joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Wood.

November is the month to remind us to be thankful for the many positive things happening in our life. It has been a most unusual year but there is always something to be thankful for. This is the time of the year when Thanksgiving and Christmas planning activities overlap and November is the month to begin decorating for these holidays.

Even before Thanksgiving is over, many people have already started putting Christmas decorations in place. Some people put up a Christmas tree before Thanksgiving, while others wait until after Thanksgiving. And it is very obvious in retail as Christmas decorations and trees can be found displayed just down the aisle from all the Thanksgiving décor.

As holiday decorations are placed in and around the home, be aware of the potential danger that might exist with holiday plants such as mistletoe, holly and the Christmas tree, and take caution and act responsibly. These plants can be poisonous to our toddlers and family pets! We are often concerned about them knocking the tree over or destroying the presents, but what happens to our pets when they eat the tree parts and other decorations? Be responsible while decorating for the holidays.

Christmas trees are a source of joy during the holidays but can pose dangerous hazards to your dog. Most dogs are instinctively attracted to their inviting smell and the appeal of gift boxes, wrappings, lights and ornaments. Christmas trees are considered to be mildly toxic, especially the oils of the fir tree which can be irritating to the mouth and stomach and causing excessive drooling or vomiting. Since the tree needles are not easily digested, possible GI tract irritation, vomiting, gastrointestinal obstruction or puncture can result.

The amount of trouble and danger depends on the quantity consumed.

However, most often pets do not consume such mass quantities of tree material to create medical issues. Always keep your pets away from the tree when you are away from home. When pets are allowed access to the tree and other decorations, always be on the look-out for any tree- or plant-eating activity in which they may be involved. If your pet has chewed on the Christmas tree or other plants, monitor them for any changes in behavior: excessive licking or salivating, appetite, activity, water consumption, vomiting or diarrhea. 

Christmas lights which are placed on the tree and elsewhere in the home can present a hazard to curious pets. Chewing on cords and lights will cause electric shocks and burns in the mouth. Check cords regularly for signs of chewing and general wear and tear. If you notice that your pet is reluctant to eat, drooling or showing signs of a painful mouth (such as refusal to play with regular toys) be sure to check for electrical mouth burns in addition to dental and other diseases. Holiday ornaments can also be a risk. Ingestion of such ornaments can cause gastrointestinal blockage or rupture.

Where pets are involved, do not string the bottom of your tree with lights since some types can get very hot and burn your dog or cat. Firmly tape cords to the base of the wall or floor and check them regularly for chew marks or punctures. Dogs and cats who chew on electrical cords and lights can receive electric shocks and mouth burns. Such chewing can cause pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) which can be fatal.

Always avoid decorating your tree with edible or glass holiday ornaments because your pet may knock over the tree trying to get to one, or injure itself trying to play with a broken one. Also consider using ribbon, yarn or lightweight twine to hang your ornaments instead of the traditional wire hooks. Wire hooks can catch on their ear or swinging tail, and if swallowed, they can lodge in your dog’s throat or intestines.

Do not trim your tree with tinsel where pets are involved. If swallowed, tinsel can block the intestines. Furthermore, surgery would be necessary to remove the tinsel from inside your pet. After the wrapping of gifts, clean up leftover supplies and keep the area around your tree free of discarded string, ribbon and small toys/toy pieces which can be swallowed and cause bowel obstruction.

Also, artificial trees can also be dangerous when eaten. The primary concern with these trees are the toxin releases from the artificial material and intestinal obstruction since these trees are not digestible. Be extra cautious if you have an artificial tree, especially since it will become more breakable with age. Small pieces of plastic or aluminum can break off and cause an intestinal blockage or mouth irritation if ingested by your dog or cat.

When you are away from home or unable to supervise your pet, confine him or her to its kennel in a separate room to minimize mischief.

This sounds like a lot of “do nots." However, simply be aware and be responsible during the holidays. Where toddlers and pets are involved, sacrifices in holiday decorating may have to be made to insure safety to these family members. Make your holiday decorations toddler- and pet-friendly, and carefully monitor them throughout the holiday season.

By the way, many people display a fall tree with fall decorations to enjoy through Thanksgiving Day. The same precautionary measures hold true with the fall tree. Therefore, think safety as you decorate your homes for personal enjoyment and curb appeal during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” — Hebrews 11:3. 

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” — Hebrews 11:6.

“For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.” —Psalm 11:7.

Seagle is a Sustainability Verifier, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International) LLC, Professor Emeritus and Honorary Alumnus, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Associate Editor of The Golf Course, International Journal of Golf Science, and Short Term Missionary, Heritage Church, Moultrie. Direct inquiries to csi_seagle@yahoo.com.

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