Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve is a very busy time of year with pet emergencies. Festive decorations, delicious human foods, and the noise, stress and unpredictability of holiday parties all present dangers for pets. We want the holidays to be a happy time for you and your pet. Careful planning can help your loved one avoid these potential hazards.
Rich, fatty holiday foods like gravy can cause problems ranging from stomach upsets to pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas resulting in pain, vomiting, and dehydration. Alcohol can cause serious intoxication in pets and many dogs are attracted to it – especially to the sweet taste of eggnog. Chocolate is a toxin that many pet owners are aware of; but did you know that uncooked yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system that can cause pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines? Please remind your guests not to feed your pets human food. Lastly, please remember that food should never be left unattended with pets at home.
Ribbons, tinsel, streamers or other long, trailing cords are particularly tempting as a play toy for many pets – but can result in disaster for your pet. These hazards can cause strangulation or can lodge in the digestive tract and require surgery to remove. We had one cute little puppy decide to taste a light bulb last year. Tape down cords to help avoid shocks or burns. Anchor Christmas trees well to prevent them from falling on your four-legged friend. Keep candles out of reach of curious pets to avoid burns.
We all like making our homes more festive for the holidays. We enjoy the green foliage and colorful flowers. Unfortunately, many traditional winter plants, including Christmas trees, are toxic or dangerous to our pets. Lilies are so toxic that any portion of the plant (leaves, flower, stems) can be deadly. Holly, mistletoe, amaryllis and other evergreens are also dangerous. So when you brighten up your home, place these plants well out of your pet’s reach. Because tree preservatives are often sugar-based (and inviting to dogs and cats) and because the water stands so long, the water in the tree stand often harbors potentially harmful bacteria. Fertilizers, insecticides, or flame retardants that were used on the tree may also get into the water. Cover the stand with a tree skirt or use other means to prevent access to the water. To deter your pet from approaching the tree, you may try high tech devices such as the Stay Away canister that delivers a noise or puff of air when the motion sensor is triggered. Other good low-tech deterrents include sticky mats, crunchy aluminum foil or bubble wrap around the base of the tree.
Some pets love visitors and behave very well. Others may be fearful or aggressive. Still, others may be too full of holiday cheer and over-exuberant. Knowing your pet’s personality can help you to plan ahead. A quiet room, away from the commotion with water and food available will help fearful dogs be more comfortable. Be mindful so that your pet cannot escape out the door and help ensure your pet, in case of an accident, will be returned to you by protecting them with a microchip. Try to keep up with exercise routines during the holidays to help use up some of the extra energy.
A few precautions can save a lengthy and costly emergency visit to the veterinarian. With all of the festivities, do not forget to relax and spend some quality time with your pet. Your cat or dog will think that is the best gift of all.