It was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. “Ah! Little did they know,” alleged the cat.

The family turned in for the evening and the nightly escapades were about to begin for the cats, Friskers and Molly. They kicked and tossed colorful bows, and borrowed from gifts under the tree, in a spirited game resembling both soccer and badminton.

Soon the twinkling tree lights caught Frisker’s eye. In their haste to prepare for the important next day, the family had forgotten to unplug them. The tree looked magical with its sparkling Christmas bulbs and shimmering garland. It seemed to dance as Friskers reached out to grab the twinkling lights.

Now he struggled to release the paw snarled in those teasing lights. The harder he pulled the worse things became. With a final tug, Friskers landed on his back surrounded by broken ornaments and tangled garland and cords draping down from the tree.

“Oh! What fun,” thought Molly as she quickly joined the game. Feeling challenged when she couldn’t reach the lights, she jumped up and opened her mouth to take a bite.

Meanwhile Bowser, the mutt, drank water from the new “dish” filled daily under the tree. “Wait! What is that smell,” he pondered as the scent lured him to a new package at the back of the tree. It’s Christmas he thought; it must be for me. Taking a deep breath, he quickly dug in.

The truffles were yummy, he was giddy with pleasure. As he lay down for the night, he felt very strange. The last words he remembered were “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Bowser woke later to a very different sight. The tree that was so magical that caused such a fuss was now dark. The cats lay sleeping peacefully in their beds. What had happened he wondered? Where things not as they seemed? Was this real or was it a dream?

Soon cries of Merry Christmas filled the room just as the tree came alive, the timer carefully set to a dime. The lights glistened among the ornaments displayed high on the tree. The Christmas cat toys, so articulately hung, adorned the low branches and cords remained securely intact. The sparkly cat balls and wool pom-poms that served as bows would no longer be needed; today was Christmas!  Much to Bowser’s delight was a package of meaty dog “truffles” with a tag that said, “Bowser: A Very Good Dog.” His heart melted with love for his family. They always remembered him, took good care of him, and kept him safe. His worries and concerns were only a dream. To his family, he was special and that was no dream.

Holidays are important to our animals. They are part of our family and more social types enjoy being included when it’s safe and appropriate. Please talk to them about what’s ahead and your expectations. Changes in schedules, visitors, and added excitement can also be stressful. Consider having Bach Flower Essences Rescue Remedy on hand to help balance emotions or any of the many other essences for fear, anxiety, calming, barking, etc. to help your animal experience self-control and peace.

It’s also very important to plan ahead to avoid potential dangers. A treat put in the wrong place could have severe implications. Caution guests against giving your animals treats or table scraps.  It may be best to separate animals suffering from allergies or those on special diets for their own protection. Have a quiet place where they can go to relax, enjoy their dinner, and a special treat. Below are some foods, plants, and other things to be aware of:

Potential toxic or fatal foods for dogs and cats:

Chocolate (especially dark and rich chocolate) is toxic causing anything from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures and heart arrhythmias. Did you know fat trimmings, whether cooked or uncooked, can cause pancreatitis? Bones do often splinter. Onions, onion powder, cooked onions, garlic, leeks, and chives are toxic to cats and dogs. Garlic is five times more toxic than onions.

Raisins and grapes can cause acute renal (kidney) failure in dogs. Please keep all nuts away from dogs. Macadamia nuts and moldy walnuts are linked to seizures or neurological symptoms. Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts can obstruct your dog’s throat and intestinal tract.

Did you know table salt is poisonous to animals? It’s found in play dough, paint balls, and swallowed ocean water.

Toxic and fatal plants:

Pine needles, poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly are toxic to cats and dogs. Mistletoe can cause death and a single leaf from any lily plant is lethal to cats. Tree water can also contain fertilizers.

Other hazards to animals:

Electrical shock can occur from chewing on cords. Please use a grounded three-prong extension cord, it could save your animal’s life. Place ornaments and decorations up high. Arrange lights, garland and other hanging décor out of the reach of a curious cat and discard bows and ribbons to prevent choking or ingestion.

Animals, like young children, are curious of lit candles. Not only can they burn themselves, but if knocked over can cause a house fire.

If you don’t have emergency numbers and emergency veterinary office numbers close at hand, please consider doing so now. A little planning ahead can make all the difference in keeping your animals safe and happy this holiday season. Please include and advise family members and visitors how to best support your animal friends. Enjoy a safe and very special holiday season.

Pet Poison Hotline

ASPCA Poison Control

For a more complete list and symptoms, go to:

Bach Flower Essences for people and animals