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Holiday Hazards

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, we enjoy special treats, beautiful decorations, parties and visits from family and friends. The holidays are a festive time for us and our pets, but due to the ongoing hustle and bustle of the holiday season we can very easily overlook dangers for our four legged family members. During the holidays our homes are full of new and enticing items and smells. You might be surprised at some of the hazards that the holidays can bring. Being aware of dangers could save you a trip to the veterinary emergency clinic.

Holiday Decorations

Tinsel, while not toxic, is very attractive to pets, particularly cats. The shiny, dangling decoration reflects the light catching the eye of your pet. The issue with tinsel is once it is consumed, it can cause serious injury to your pet. If not caught in time, this foreign body could actually be fatal as it twists and bunches inside your pet’s intestines. Bright and colorful tree ornaments can be an unknown hazard. Placing glass, aluminum and paper ornaments higher up on the tree out of reach of curious onlookers is highly recommended. Pets can chew and swallow fragile objects causing lacerations in their mouth, throat and intestines. They could also create a choking hazard. Twinkling holiday lighting may be another source of dangers to your curious pet. Electrical shock may occur if your pet chomps down on an electrical cord, causing tongue lacerations and possible death. Check your holiday lights for signs of fraying or chewing and use a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution. Place candles in a hard to reach spot so pets cannot access them, knocking them over burning themselves and/or causing a fire hazard.

Food Hazards

Holiday functions and events often mean edible treats and lots of them. Unfortunately, some of the popular holiday goodies are not so good for your pet. Chocolate is toxic. In general, the darker and richer the chocolate (ie.,baker’s chocolate) the higher the risk of toxicity. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, dogs might experience vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, heart arrhythmias, tremors and seizures. Many cookies and candies contain nuts which can be harmful to your beloved family member as well. Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios can upset your pet’s stomach while macadamia nuts can cause seizures or neurological signs. Lethargy, vomiting, and loss of muscle control are among the effects of nut ingestion. Fat trimmings and bones can be dangerous for dogs. Fat trimming from meat, both cooked and uncooked, may cause pancreatitis. And though it may seem natural to give a dog a bone, they can splinter, causing a choking hazard. Giving alcohol beverages to your pet can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma, and even death. Even uncooked yeast dough can rise in the stomach and cause extreme abdominal pain, bloat, and vomiting. You may think you are giving them a treat, but in the long run you could be making your pet very sick. Though it is very tempting to give your pet a taste of the holiday goodies, it is best to stick to their normal regular diet.

Toxic Holiday Plants

They are pretty, but some holiday plants are poisonous, even deadly. As little as a single leaf from any lily variety is lethal to cats. Others to avoid:

  • Christmas tree pine needles can cause oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, trembling and posterior weakness.
  • Holly can cause intense vomiting, diarrhea and depression.
  • Mistletoe can cause vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, erratic behavior, hallucinations, and death when ingested.
  • Poinsettias can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach and sometimes vomiting.

Be Prepared: despite your best efforts, accidents can still happen. In case your pet needs medical assistance, keep these important phone numbers in a convenient place.

  • Your veterinarian
  • Your nearest emergency vet clinic
  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 1-888-426-4435

Taking precautions with pets during these festive times can help ensure that you and your family will enjoy a happy and health holiday season!!

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