The Holidays Can Be Stressful for Pets, Look After Them
The Season to be Jolly can bring added dangers to our furry family friends that may be fascinated with new smells, tastes, changes in routines, and frightened by unusual noises.
“Veterinarians often see an increase in the number of emergency calls during the holiday season,” says a past President of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “Whether it’s exposure to chocolate or fatty foods, or pets injured through exposure to festive decorations such as electric cords, ornaments, tinsel, etc., the holidays can present hazards for pets.”
To keep pets healthy and happy throughout the holidays, please note of the following dangers:
- Tinsel, ribbon and shiny decorations of the season. Dogs and cats love to chew on and even eat colorful ribbons and tinsel. But they can cause serious problems to the intestine that can be fatal as they travel through the digestive track, possibly damaging the intestine and causing infections. Vomiting, diarrhea, and belly pain can all be signs you should see your vet immediately.
- Holiday lights. Lights can draw pets like moths to a flame, but chewing on cords can cause dangerous electrical shocks, as well as causing electrical fires and putting your house and family in danger. According to the US Fire Administration, electrical fires accounted for almost 24,000 fires in Y 2014. Keep an eye on electrical cords for bite marks, and replace any that are bitten or worn. Symptoms of electrical shock are breathing problems, abnormal heart rhythms, burns, loss of consciousness, and, of course, death. If you suspect your pet has had an electrical shock, contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Christmas Tree water. If you have a fresh Christmas Tree, chances are you’re trying to keep it fresh by adding preservatives to the water. Commercial products, such as those used to keep flowers fresh, can contain toxic chemicals. Most people make their own by adding sugar, corn syrup, aspirin, vodka, or even mixtures containing bleach to the water. Just like toilet bowls, pets are drawn to unusual water sources, so make sure the water is pet-friendly.
- Holiday plants. Poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe, are poisonous to dogs and cats. While both poinsettias and holly cause fairly mild gastric problems, including vomiting and diarrhea, mistletoe can be very poisonous and cause death within hours.
- Fire. If you fire up the Yule log and your animals aren’t used to being around fireplaces and burning candles, be especially careful: A wagging tail could cause a painful burn. Use fireplace screens and make sure that candles are placed on mantles and high shelves instead of coffee tables.
- Chocolate and other holiday goodies. You probably know that a compound (theobromine) in chocolate is toxic to your pet, but you may not realize just how little it takes. A couple of M&Ms can be deadly to birds and a small candy bar can be fatal to a small cat or dog. Do not leave chocolates out in bowls or otherwise make them accessible to pets, and ensure that guests do not give chocolate to your pets as a treat. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, muscle spasms, seizures, and weakness.
- Do not give your pet sugar-free cookies: The artificial sweetener xylitol can cause blood pressure to drop drastically.
- Avoid treating your pet animals rich, fatty foods that will upset their digestion and can cause pancreatitis. Deposit turkey bones in the garbage, not in your dog’s food dish.
If you believe your pet is in danger, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Have a Happy Holiday Season.