Holiday Pet Hazards – Article by Eddie Garcia, D.VM. – Clinic Director at Veterinary Medical Clinic and Feline Wellness Center
The following is a list of the common holiday hazards that bring many pet owners to veterinary clinics. All of them can be avoided with some simple precautions.
Chocolate: It is in our baking projects as well as in wrapped gifts that end up under the tree. Pets often get into chocolate by chewing into a wrapped gift, the contents of a person may not even be aware. To avoid what may be a fatal exposure, keep all chocolate out of reach, never place wrapped chocolate under a holiday tree and don’t be shy about asking gift givers if a gift they place under your tree contains any chocolate. The stimulants that give us the “chocolate buzz” can cause diarrhea, vomiting and fatal heart arrhythmias in our furry friends.
Antifreeze: Commonly used in the winter holiday months as we prepare our automobiles for cold weather. Products containing ethylene glycol are fatal when even small amounts are swallowed. Because they are typically sweet in taste, many dogs will drink antifreeze straight or in puddles combined with water. Cats may walk through it and then lick the antifreeze off their paws. Permanent, irreversible kidney damage results from these exposures and can be fatal. Prevention is simple if you clean spills immediately and purchase newer products that don’t contain ethylene glycol. They are marked “pet safe.”
Many of our favorite holiday foods contain more fats and bones than foods we eat the rest of the year. Giving fats and bones can trigger bad cases of stomach upset or can result in life threatening obstructions or pancreatitis. It’s helpful to keep extra “safe” treats around the house during the holidays so that you can cheat with extras that won’t be a threat to your pet’s health.
Weather: If a pet is going to spend considerable time outdoors in the cold, it may have a higher calorie requirement; so a little extra food may be warranted. Whenever it is 30F or colder, bring in all animals to prevent frostbite.
Ornaments: Many animals will eat tree ornaments, tinsel and candles. Prevent hazards by keeping young, unsupervised puppies out of harm’s way of all ornaments and use care when burning candles so that tails and long hair don’t accidentally cause fire hazards. Never leave a candle burning on a coffee table with unsupervised pets. Sweep up any broken ornaments immediately and vacuum well to prevent exposure to sharp shards.
If you follow these simple recommendations, you and all of your pets should enjoy a peaceful and healthy holiday season.
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