Pet Safety in the Holiday Season

Dec 10, 2013 @ 05:53 PM — by Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital
Tagged with: Pet Safety Holiday

The holidays are a wonderful time for you and your pet, when you can make the best of memories together. To keep your pet safe during this time, there are several seasonal dangers that should be avoided.

Christmas tree water with fertilizer can cause vomiting and diarrhea if your pet drinks it. Additionally, this stagnant water harbors bacteria that can make your pet sick. Tinsel and ribbon are shiny and string-like, which is attractive to cats. Unfortunately, swallowing either can be life-threatening if they get caught in the intestines; this often requires surgical removal. Cats have been known to eat the tree needles, which can also cause vomiting and diarrhea.  Outside or inside, cats may try to climb trees.  If you have a tree in your living room, consider bracing it to avoid injury and an avalanche of branches and ornaments.  In general, pets should be kept away from the Christmas tree if possible.

When decorating, keep electrical cords and candles out of pet’s reach.

Holly and Mistletoe are lesser-known toxins for your pet. Ingestion of Holly can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and serious heart problems if eaten. Poinsettias are well-known for their mild toxicity and can cause some nausea and soft stool.

Cold weather brings its own hazards for pets.  If your dogs or cats go outside in snow or freezing conditions, rock salt sprinkled on sidewalks and driveways can irritate delicate paws and cause internal injuries if ingested during grooming.  Be certain to rinse and dry feet thoroughly after returning from outside to prevent serious dermatitis of the footpads.

When winterizing your car, always properly dispose of antifreeze.  Dogs and cats will readily drink its sweet taste.  Only a few licks can damage their kidneys and cause irreversible and fatal kidney failure.

If you plan to be out of town and must board your pet, make reservations early and check with your kennel for vaccine requirements. Review your pet’s vaccine status with enough time to schedule any needed.  Even if staying home, be sure your pet is protected if visitors are bringing pets, and take care when opening and closing doors to prevent escape.

The best way to say “I love you” to your pet is with lots of attention and a normal diet, not people food or excessive treats that may upset the stomach.  You might think a small potato chip with a little dip is harmless.  Did you know that onions and garlic, found in many  dips, are highly toxic in cats?  They can cause gastrointestinal upset and even anemia. Flowers make a beautiful hostess gift, but if any part of a lily plant comes in contact with a cat, it takes only three days for the cat to go into kidney failure.  Even if the cat only sniffs a flower, bulb or pollen, then licks his nose, kidney failure is likely.  Symptoms are weakness, lethargy, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

If you keep these tips in mind, you can enjoy a happy, safe holiday with your pet.

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