Alicia Pet Clinic Weblog


Holiday Health Hazards For Pets

I was recently asked to write a holiday hazards article for the local paper so I figured I would put it here…

 

1.  Candles: A curious pup or kitty could mess things up in a spectacular way by accidentally tipping candles over and causing a fire.  Keep your flames out of reach so that your pet is not hurt and so that you are not one of the over 2000 people in America who are injured or killed this holiday season in a house fire.
2. Electrical cords: Biting on an electrical cord provides more than a spring in your step.  Puppies are the worst offenders with this one, and electrical cord injuries can cause life threatening lung damage by electrocution.
3. Foreign foods: We’re not talking about Chinese or Mexican food; we mean foreign to your pet.  This could include a bit too much of the traditional turkey or ham which can cause pancreatitis (a cause of severe gastroenteritis symptoms) or severe diarrhea. Even deciding to go with something more oriented to your pet like a pig ear for your pup, or a special can of cat food for kitty might cause some significant stomach problems since they represent a rapid diet change. Remember: “everything in moderation.”
4. Ribbon, twine, tinsel:  Long, thin, shiny things are so tempting to pets, but cats are the most common offenders here.  Every year, thousands of cats get an expensive present called abdominal surgery and it puts a big damper on things.
5. Toys: Action figures or Legos for the kids can be swallowed by curious dogs or cats, and if the toys are the right size, they can end up with an intestinal obstruction.  Same goes with the insides of stuffed animals, pieces of the new ball or Frisbee, and the remnants of the rope toy that the dogs destroyed.  Try to be smart and keep the small things out of reach of those doggy and kitty mouths.
6. Chocolate:  We have all heard about the threat of chocolate toxicity for dogs (cats are too smart for this one!), but every year thousands of dogs get poisoned by the sweet stuff during the holiday season.  Remember that chocolate tastes good to almost every species on earth, but dogs can’t break down one of the ingredients.  It can either make them feel like they have had too many cappuccinos or it can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias.  Keep the goodies out of reach or you might have a very hyper but sick pup on your hands.
7. Bones:  Dog bones are a common holiday present for Fido but they are not as safe as you might think.  If you give a raw bone, make sure that it is the appropriate size for your pup, and if it is something completely new, you might deal with some serious stomach upset.  If it is a cooked bone, they can splinter or break into pieces that are just the right size to block things up.  Be smart about your holiday treats for your dog.
8.  Holiday plants: Holly and mistletoe are extremely toxic if ingested.  Lilies carry a high mortality rate for those that ingest even a small amount.  Interestingly, the poinsettia has a reputation for being very toxic but offers only the possibility of mild upset stomach symptoms.  Bottom line: keep the plants out of reach, especially for cats as their curiosity is notorious.
9. Stress and visitors:  Family and friends coming to your house is exciting for some, but many pets are really stressed out about all of the excitement.  If they don’t escape due to your Aunt Marge not closing the door, they might be so stressed that it could give them diarrhea.  If cats are involved, stress has been known to cause upper respiratory infections and urinary problems.  Try to provide a safe zone for your nervous pet to find peace.
10.  Poor budgeting:  Every year we feel compelled to buy lots of stuff as gifts for the holidays and sometimes we go a little too far.  If you have any of the above things happen, it might cost money to help your pet get care.  Sadly, every year people have to make very hard choices around the holidays due to a very sick pet and financial difficulties.  Try to keep a bit of money set aside to take care of Fluffy in case of an emergency.
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