“Some of the days in November carry the whole memory of summer as a fire opal carries the color of moonrise.” — Gladys Taber. 

“Fallen leaves lying on the grass in the November sun bring more happiness than the daffodils.” — Cyril Connolly. 

“November is chill, frosted mornings with a silver sun rising behind the trees, red cardinals at the feeders, and squirrels running scallops along the tops of the gray stone walls.”  — Jean Hersey.

With the days of November passing right along, it’s time to decorate for the upcoming holidays. This is the time of the year when Thanksgiving and Christmas planning activities overlap. 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, realize that some decorations can be dangerous for our toddlers and family pets! Be aware of the potential danger that might exist with holiday plants such as mistletoe, holly, and the Christmas tree, thus take caution and act responsibly. These plants can be poisonous to our pets! And our pets are family! 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 in 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. Thus, when pets are allowed access to the tree and other decorations, always be on the lookout 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 him/her for any changes in behavior (excessive licking or salivating), appetite, activity, water consumption, vomiting or diarrhea.

Other tree concerns worthy of mention involve preservatives, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals such as aspirin which are commonly used in the tree water to help keep it fresh. These chemicals may have harmful or deadly consequences for your pets (and possibly children) who may drink this water! The best prevention is a covered or enclosed tree water dish or base which is also the safest.

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. Firmly tape cords to the base of the wall or floor and check them regularly for chew marks or punctures. Dogs 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 (cat or dog) 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 thus causing decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and weight loss. 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 or 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. 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.

Sounds like a lot of “do nots” here. 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.

May the results of your holiday efforts be photo opps and memory-makers for seasons to come. Be aware and think safety and responsibility! Select awesome seasonal plants for the upcoming holidays. Keep your hanging baskets and potted plants refreshed with water and food.

And, as holiday traffic increases, be on lookout for children playing and bicyclists riding along the streets and roadways throughout our communities. Pay attention to school buses and respect their stop signs and other signals as they transport our children to and from school and home. And remember to safely share the road with motorcycles. Drive alert and arrive alive. Don’t drive distracted or impaired, and don’t text while driving. Help the homeless every chance you get. As you receive blessings, always pay them forward. Pay for a stranger’s meal the next time you are eating out as a gesture of love and goodwill. Let’s keep everyone safe and secure during this holiday season!

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” — 1 John 1:9. 

“For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” — Luke 11:10. 

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” — James 1:12.

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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