The 3rd day of Christmas: Christmas Lights and Electrical Cords

As we decorate our Christmas tree and homes, the doctors at Urgent Pet Care want you to be aware of the dangers that cords and strands of lights can pose for our pets. These cords can become irresistible chew toys for dogs and cats, especially the young ones.  Christmas lights and electrical cords can cause a several different types of hazards for our pets in the home.

Electrical Shock and Burns

The first type of hazard is the potential of electrical shock and burns.  If you have a curious or mischievous pet or especially a new puppy or kitten at home, you always want to be careful with having electrical cords and lights laying around where they can reach them.  Pets (especially puppies and kittens) that chew on electrical cords typically will receive burns to the mouth that range from mild to severe, depending on the type of cord.  Pets experiencing burns to the mouth, may not want to eat or drink, causing them to become dehydrated, and may require a temporary feeding tube and hospitalization to monitor their progress.

Along with receiving a shock our pets can also develop fluid on the lungs. This fluid buildup within the lungs, that results from a cause other than heart failure, is known as non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema, it can lead to breathing problems, and can be fatal.

Signs your dog or cat may have experienced a shock or burns from an electrical cord:

  • Acting abnormally
  • Hiding
  • Excessive drooling
  • Refusal to eat or drink
  • Random and abnormal urination or defecation near an electric cord
  • Evidence of a chewed electric cord

If you believe your dog or cat may have experienced an electrical shock or burns from an electrical cord, the doctors at Urgent Pet Care Omaha would recommend doing an exam on your pet as soon as possible, these cases can turn serious very quickly.

Electrical Shorts and Exposed Wires:

Another hazard that could occur as a result of the cords being chewed on is a short in the cord or exposed wires.  These could result in tree or house fires which can be very dangerous not only to your pets, but also the whole family.  That is not anything anyone wants to ever go through, let alone around the holidays.

Foreign Bodies and Cuts:

The last hazard that can be caused by Christmas lights is the potential of the dog or cat eating the light bulbs and cords.  These can cause what we call “foreign bodies”.  For more information about foreign bodies and the symptoms related to this condition, check out our previous blog, the 1st day of Christmas: Holiday Decorations. Bulbs and ornaments, if chewed on, can cause cuts to the mouth, paws, and esophagus.

Prevention and Precautions:

Make sure to keep cords and lights up and away from pets’ reach.  When kenneling puppies and kittens make sure there are no cords laying close enough for them to be able to reach and chew on any cords.  If you have dogs or cats, that like to chew on cords on the Christmas tree consider only decorating the top of the tree, or using the rope style lighting so you can use a deterrent on them, such as “Bitter Apple” spray.  Also see about using lower voltage LED lighting which are usually made of plastic verse the usual glass and may be less likely to break when your dog or cat tries to chew on them.

If your pet is experiencing an electrical shock at the current moment, never touch or grab your pet, tempting as it may be.  Always follow proper protocol when unplugging any cords from an outlet.  Never leave lights on when you are not home or asleep.  And always check all cords for any damage (including chew marks) before plugging it into an power source.

Visit Urgent Pet Care Omaha

If you suspect that your dog or cat has experienced an electrical shock, burns, or has eaten any lights, or electrical cords, the doctors at Urgent Pet Care Omaha recommend an exam to help determine if your pet is having an issue.  At Urgent Pet Care in Omaha, our veterinarians are here for you and your pet, every night, weekend, and holiday for any veterinary emergency. No appointment is needed during an emergency, but we do appreciate a phone call to let us know you’re coming.

To reach our Omaha office, please call 402-991-9444. For the Papillion office, please call 402-597-2911.