We don't want to be a downer at the holidays, but it's true that at this time of year we tend to see more pets needing emergency care due to some common holidays hazards. Families are busy celebrating, and might not always notice what their dog or cat are getting into. Here are a few things to keep in mind during the festive season:
Christmas Tinsel and Christmas tree ornaments
Tinsel, though very pretty, is very attractive to pets, especially cats. Though it is non-toxic if they do ingest it, the long strands can become tangled within their intestines. They will not be able to pass the tinsel themselves, and it can result in a foreign body obstruction. If you see your pet eating tinsel it is best to seek immediate veterinary care.
Ornaments hung on the tree at pet height can easily be seen as toys. Make sure if you are hanging any decorations on your tree that you place them out of your pets reach. Pets may decide they look like a tasty snack or toy and break them, leading to injury.
Christmas lights and electrical chords
Lighting on the tree or even around the house may be a hazard for curious pets. It is best to hang lights out of reach, and only have them turned on when you are home to supervise.
Pets that like to chew are also at risk of chewing on electrical cords. Electric shock can occur and lead to damage in your pets mouth. This can be in the form of burnt tissue, or even fractures of the teeth. It is best to check over your entire electric chords daily to look for any signs of chewing.
Gift wrap ribbon
Just like tinsel pets may decide this makes a fun toy or snack. This can lead to choking, or again a foreign body stuck within the intestines. It is best to discard any ribbon or bows into the garbage right away before pets have a chance to chew on them.
It might look really cute to decorate your pet with a Christmas ribbon collar, but make sure to remove these after you are done taking photos, or if you are not able to supervise your pet.
There are many holiday treats that although they are tasty for us, can be toxic to our four legged friends. Here is a list of foods to keep away from pets this season:
-Depending on the size of your pet, it may only take a small amount of chocolate to cause toxicity. Chocolate contains theobromine, which when ingested can make your pet sick. Theobromine is present in higher amount in products like baking chocolate, then dark chocolate, with milk chocolate containing the least amount. The most common signs of chocolate toxicity are vomiting and tremors at low doses, but at high doses we can see seizure activity and sometimes death. If your pet gets into any Christmas goodies this holiday season, contact us and we can let you know if your pet needs to seek immediate medical attention.
-Fat trimmings and turkey bones are dangerous for pets especially dogs. The fat off the turkey can lead to pancreatitis. Bones can break and splinter in your dog’s mouth, and can even break teeth. If fragments are swallowed the can become obstructive in the intestines, or cause lacerations.
-Keep your pet on her regular diet and caution visitors against giving your pet special treats or table scraps.
Some decorative plants can be poisonous if ingested by our pets.
-Poinsettias can cause oral irritation to a pets mouth and stomach. They can also induce vomiting.
-Christmas tree pine needles can produce oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, trembling and posterior weakness.
-Holly, commonly found during the Christmas season, can cause intense vomiting, diarrhea and depression.
-Mistletoe, another Christmas plant, can cause significant vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, erratic behavior, hallucinations and death when ingested.
The holiday season, though filled with Christmas cheer for us, can be a very stressful time for our four legged friends. Make sure pets have a safe spot to go to hide, or be away from all the noise when they feel the need.
All of us at Guelph Lake Veterinary Hospital want to wish you and your pets a safe and happy holiday season!
Note: Parts of this blog post were originally posted on our sister hospital's blog at Woodlawn Veterinary Hospital.