As the holiday season approaches, every family wants their furry friends involved in the festivities. However, there are several potential hazards that exist for our pets that you may think are an innocent part of the holiday experience. Every holiday season, many pets end up at their family veterinarians or emergency hospitals because of exposure to these potential hazards. By being adequately informed, you can insure that your precious pet will not be among them.
- Feeding Problems: The holidays mean tables filled with delicious delicacies. Foods that are too fatty, spicy or rich can lead to a bout of intestinal upset. In some pets, that treat can trigger a serious inflammatory response within the pancreas, stomach or intestine, leading to life-threatening illness. A general rule of thumb would be to not feed your pet anything you would not eat yourself. Grizzle, trimmings, and marrow from bones should be avoided. Small amounts of leaner meat are OK, but realize that your pet will not know his or her limits when getting these tantalizing treats.
- Foreign Body Ingestion: While the cooked carcass may seem like a great thing to wrap up our four-footed friend’s night, cooked bones are susceptible to splintering, which can damage intestinal walls. The bones themselves can act as obstructions, requiring surgical removal. Small toys left out can also be picked up and inadvertently ingested by a pet looking to be involved in the fun.
- Dangerous decorations: A dutifully decorated tree or mantle can represent a haven for hazards. Tinsel, yard, ribbon and string can be a wonderful toy for our kitties, however if ingested, can cause serious intestinal damage. Light strings can present electrocution hazards if chewed. Ornaments and tree water can also be harmful if swallowed. Monitor the little ones closely when admiring the tree and if they stray too close, consider methods to keep them at arm’s length.
- Poisonings: Holiday plants, such as mistletoe and amaryllis, are toxic. Holiday gifts, such as chocolate (the most common intoxication of pets over Christmas), should be kept up and away from their access. Alternative treats, such as diabetic or artificially sweetened confections also have the potential to cause intestinal disease or even worse, neurological disease from excessive insulin release.
While we are always willing to help when your four-footed family member gets into things he or she should not have, it is also a good idea to know the location and phone number of the after-hours clinic near you home. In addition to this, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is a great resource for owners and veterinarians alike who need quick information on toxicities. Their website is: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control. They also have a phone number to connect you to a trained animal toxicologist to discuss potential toxicities: 1 (888) 426-4435. Please be advised that a small fee is required for these consultations.
-Adapted from Veterinary Partner, 2014