Happy Holidays to you and yours! Along with the excitement and merriment of the holidays come possible dangers for your pet. The following guidelines will help you make your home a safe haven for your pet this holiday season.
O Christmas Tree
Anchor Christmas trees to the ceiling or walls with a string to keep it from falling on pets. Do not allow your pets access to the tree water. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he be tempted to sip from the tree stand. Do not decorate the tree with food! Many a holiday tree has been pulled down in a pets attempt to eat the decorations made of popcorn, candy canes and gingerbread. This can cause your pet stomach upset and possibly obstruction, necessitating surgery.
Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. Along the same vein, keep ribbon on the present to a minimum – cats and dogs love this curly sparkly stuff too!
Extra Power Cords
The extra cords and plugs of holiday lights and other fixtures can look like chew toys to pets. Tape down or cover cords to help avoid shocks, burns or other serious injuries. Unplug lights when you are not home.
Snow globes often contain antifreeze, which is poisonous to pets. Ingestion of any ornament, which might look like toys to pets, can result in life-threatening emergencies. Even ornaments made from dried food can lead to ailments. And remember, shards from broken glass ornaments can injure paws, mouths and other parts of the body. Keep candles on high shelves—you never know what a curious cat or a dog’s wagging tail might do! And always extinguish candles when you leave the room.
Beautiful, But Harmful, Plants
Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies, can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.
Many holiday foods can be dangerous for your pet. No need to forego your favorite holiday goodies, just be careful what your pet is given….or tries to steal! As a safeguard, inform all friends and family that your pets are not to be fed any of the holiday fare. Special notes must be made about the following food hazards:
Chocolate. Especially dark or baking chocolate. There are toxins present in chocolate which can cause problems ranging from mild stomach upset to seizures and death. Keep all chocolate out of pet’s reach.
Alcohol. If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.
Rich fatty foods. These foods can cause your pet mild stomach irritation to a severe condition known as pancreatitis, which often requires hospitalization and can be fatal.
Uncooked dough. Dough can expand and produce gas in the stomach which can cause bloat, severe pain and possible rupture of the digestive system. If you are leaving dough out to rise, keep your pet out of that room.
Fruits and nuts. Avoid grapes, raisins and macadamia nuts as they can cause problems ranging from digestive upset to organ failure and death.
Wrappers, aluminum foil, etc. Pets have an excellent sense of smell and will sniff out wrappers or packages that contain traces of food. Wrappers are often unable to pass and will cause obstructions that require surgery to remove. Keep your countertops clean and take your trash out frequently (into a securely locked area).
New Year’s Noise
As you count down to the New Year, please keep in mind that ingested strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestines, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. Fireworks are a common phobia for many pets. Make sure your animals have a safe environment at home if you live in an area where fireworks are likely.
And Please, DO NOT Give a Pet as a Gift.
Although this seems like the perfect festive gift, it should be avoided. The holidays are not ideal for introducing a new pet into a family. New pets require a stable environment and plenty of extra attention and time to bond with their new family. The bustle and travel associated with the holidays does not provide the sort of environment a new pet needs to succeed with a new family. If a new pet is part of the family plan, give a variety of pet toys or books on pet care. Shelters are flooded with animals after the holiday season, most of whom were well-intentioned holiday gifts.
The Veterinarians and staff of the Chatham-Kent Veterinary Professional Corporation wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you and yours have a safe and enjoyable Holiday.