Who would have imagined that something as family-fun as decorating your home over the holidays could pose a deadly threat to your pets?
No, I’m not talking about the usual seasonal dangers we’ve all heard about one time or another, which I list in my book “The Dog Bible” – those problematic things like breakable hanging decorations, lilies, the chocolates and other sweets of the season.
No, the dangerous item is something that seems so innocent: the handmade salt dough decorations that children make in school (which has been going on for many generations) and that grown-ups who love to craft also create for themselves and as gifts. Dogs and cats who try to play with these ornaments and wind up ingesting them can become deathly ill.
One of the most fun parts of the holidays is bringing out those boxes of longstanding decorations and dressing up your mantle piece, table, doorways and tree (if your family tradition includes one).
It’s also fun to add to your collection and find new decorations, make them, or receive them as gifts. But whatever you do, take this as a warning to get rid of any previous salt dough decorations and tell everyone you know to keep new ones out of the house.
It turns out that salt dough creations can kill a dog – as a family sadly found out as they grieve for their dog Lexi this holiday season. As this article explains, Lexi ate a homemade ornament formed using salt dough and became ill with a high fever and neurological problems within hours.
By the time they were able to get her to the veterinarian the dog’s health was so severely compromised that the devastated family decided to have her humanely euthanized. The family is hoping that their tragic loss will at least prove a valuable warning to other pet owners about the very serious danger of salt-dough ornaments.
Tracie Hotchner is the author of THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know.
She is also a renowned pet radio host and producer, having spent 7 years on the Martha Stewart Channel of Sirius/XM with CAT CHAT® and even longer with her award-winning NPR radio show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) that continues to broadcast in the Hamptons and the Berkshires. Her most recent accomplishment is the pet talk radio network she has created on the Internet called The Radio Pet Lady Network.