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The holidays are a time for family, friends, feasts, and fun. But for our pets, they can mean an increased risk for illness or injury. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to help keep your pets safe throughout the holiday season.
Food & Beverage Cautions
If your holiday festivities are like most, they’ll probably include lots of delicious food and drink. But not all consumables that are safe for us are safe for our pets. Chocolate, for example, is a major health risk to dogs, which cannot effectively process ingredients like caffeine and methylxanthine. Excessive chocolate consumption by dogs can result in digestive disturbances (such as diarrhea and vomiting), anxiety or hyperactivity, tremors, and even seizures. Small dogs are at especially high risk due to their low body weight.
Alcohol is another substance to avoid giving to pets. Dogs can develop serious and life-threatening reactions to even small amounts of alcohol. These can include central nervous system problems, diarrhea, vomiting, and coma. Exposure to alcohol can also cause a condition called metabolic acidosis, in which the acidity of the body’s fluids and tissues becomes elevated to toxic levels.
Other common holiday foods to avoid giving pets include chicken or turkey bones (which can shatter and perforate the stomach or intestines), fat trimmed from raw meat (which may cause pancreatitis), and nuts like almonds, walnuts, macadamias, and pistachios (which can cause serious neurologic symptoms).
The list of “don’t” foods is similar for cats and includes chocolate, coffee, tea, trimmed fat, and meat scraps. Also, avoid giving cats grapes or raisins, as these can result in acute, rapid-onset kidney failure that can be fatal.
Holiday décor can be a great way to show your seasonal spirit, but some holiday decorations can be hazardous to pets. Tinsel, for example, can quickly become bunched or tangled within the digestive tract, causing a very serious blockage. And while tinsel itself is not toxic, the materials used to make the shiny coating have been known to cause serious stomach upset in dogs. Also, if your pets are prone to chew wires and electrical cords, these should be kept bound and out of reach to avoid an electrocution hazard.
Another common hazard is shiny ornaments, which can attract the attention of curious pets. Glass ornaments can create a cut risk and aluminum or paper ornaments are at risk of being destroyed by playful animals. As a general rule, decorations that may pose a hazard to pets should be kept out of reach.
Holiday Plant Cautions
Many decorative plants commonly associated with the holidays can be hazardous to pets. Poinsettia plants, for example, can seem like a tempting treat, but in reality, can produce serious gastric disturbances. Similarly, holly and mistletoe are toxic and should be kept away from places where pets can easily reach. Other toxic holiday plants include lilies and daffodils, amaryllis, and Christmas cactus.
Some pet owners also use caution around tree water, which can contain substances capable of irritating your pet’s mouth, throat, or digestive tract. In general, it’s best to keep tree water covered by a tree skirt to prevent pets from using the stand as their drinking bowl.
Of course, all other common-sense cautions should apply during the holidays. If you are planning to burn open candles or to have a blazing log in the fireplace, never leave a fire unattended. Place candles out of the reach of curious pets and away from flammables such as drapes or wrapping paper.
At Richmond Road Veterinary Clinic, the health and well-being of your pets are important to us. If your pet becomes ill or injured, our team of skilled and compassionate professionals is here to provide the care they need.
We wish you and your pets, a safe and fun holiday season!
Richmond Road Veterinary Clinic and its sister clinic, Tates Creek Animal Hospital, are both members of the Kentucky Veterinary Practice Group, local experts for compassionate pet care. Dr. Kevin Smith and his team of veterinarians and technicians use the most advanced technology and techniques. Should you have a question for our office or staff, please contact us at (859) 263-5037 or firstname.lastname@example.org.