Holiday Hazards for Pets

While you are busy making plans for Christmas, please don’t forget to include your pets. The holidays are a time for giving, but there are some things you should not share with your best friends. Once you know the hazards, a little precaution and prevention will make the holidays a happy time for everyone.

Some of the more common holiday hazards include:

Bones: The holiday turkey will leave a lot of tantalizing bones, but don’t feed them to your pet. Beware of steak bones, too. Small bones or bone fragments can lodge in the throat, stomach, and intestinal tract.

Fat: Those wonderful gravies, and poultry skin can cause severe gastrointestinal upset.

Holiday Plants: Holly and mistletoe are extremely poisonous when eaten. The lovely poinsettia may not be truly poisonous, but its milky white sap and leaves can cause severe gastric distress. The best approach is to keep plants out of your pet’s reach.

Electrical Cords: Holiday lights mean more electrical cords for kittens and puppies to chew. Be sure you have cords secured and out of the way.

Candles: Lighted candles should never be left unattended especially if left at kitty’s eye level or within puppy’s chewing zone. An exuberant tail, a swat of a paw, and candles and hot wax can quickly become disastrous. Anchor candles securely and away from curious faces and feet.

Pine Needles: Check around holiday trees and boughs frequently. Ingested pine needles can cause intestinal damage.

Holiday Tree: make sure your tree is well secured. If you have a tree-climbing cat or large dog with a happy tail, anchor the tree to the wall, using strong cord or rope. Preservatives often used in the water in a tree stand can cause gastric upsets.

Ornaments: Sharp or breakable ornaments, and aluminum foil should be kept out of reach. String objects, especially tinsel and ribbons are thin and sharp and can cause intestinal injury.

Stress and Company: With guests coming and going, watch out for open doors and sneaky pets. Make sure your pets have collars and tags on in case of escape. Ask guests to keep an eye out for pets under foot and remind them that sometimes your normally friendly dog or cat may be less than willing to deal with enthusiastic children and rooms full of unfamiliar people. Provide a special quiet place with a blanket and plenty of fresh water for your pets if the festivities get too stressful for them.

Additional hazards to keep out of your pet's reach:

Ethylene Glycol (Antifreeze): This is a common toxin that causes acute kidney failure when only a very small amount is consumed. The first signs are weakness, wobbly gait, increased thirst and increased urination. If emergency treatment is not instituted this toxin is usually fatal. Antifreeze is sweet and is attractive to pets so any leaks around vehicles in the snow or on the garage floor can lead to serious problems.

Chocolate: Seen frequently during many holidays. Symptoms include increased thirst, vomiting, restlessness, heart irregularities and seizures. Early intervention is important for successful treatment but prevention is the best solution….protect your pets from chocolates.

Poinsettia: Commonly thought to be toxic this plant rarely causes more than stomach upset. It is best to keep of all your plants out of reach of your pets to avoid vomiting and diarrhea.

Mistletoe: Rather rare but can cause vomiting, diarrhea, fluid loss and death has been reported.

Macadamia Nuts: Can cause depression, inability to stand or use the hind legs and vomiting.

Plant Bulbs: The amaryllis bulb is a Christmas favorite and can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Not a pleasant Christmas morning surprise!!

Raisins/Grapes: Can cause kidney failure and death. Do not give any raisins or grapes to your pets.

Foreign Bodies: Toys, ribbons and ornaments make this a common Christmas occurrence. Pet proof your house to avoid this Christmas accident.

Table Scraps: Everyone wants to share a bit of Christmas dinner or treats with their pets but please be very careful - never allow access to bones, gravies and sauces and don’t feed leftovers.

Hypothermia: Winter hasn’t been too cold yet but hypothermia can occur and it does affect pets. Cats may be especially prone to hypothermia over the busy holiday season when they choose to stay outdoors to avoid the hustle and bustle inside.