BY DR. GARRETT LEVIN, DVM, Diplomate ACVS
The holiday season is upon us, and many pet parents plan to include their furry companions in the festivities. As you gear up for the holidays, it is important to try to keep your pet’s eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. Also, please be sure to steer pets clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations:
Oh, Christmas Tree: Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria – if ingested could cause nausea or diarrhea. In addition, avoid putting aspirin in the water (some people do this thinking it will keep the tree more vigorous). Aspirin-laced water can be life threatening.
Avoid Mistletoe & Holly: Holly and Poinsettias, when ingested, can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Instead choose artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.
Tinsel-less Town: Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery.
That Holiday Glow: Don’t leave lit candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock the candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders placed on a stable surface. If you leave the room – put the candle out!
Wired Up: Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock (especially if chewed on) and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus. Shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth and digestive tract.
Beautiful Decorations: Keep other ornaments out of reach of pets. Ingestion of any ornament, which might look like toys to pets can result in life-threatening emergencies and require emergency surgery to remove from the gastrointestinal tract. Pine needles, when ingested, can puncture holes in a pet’s intestine. So keep pet areas clear of pine needles.
Christmas Morning Presents: Put away toys after children open their gifts. Small plastic pieces and rubber balls are common causes of choking and intestinal blockage in dogs. Ingested plastic or cloth toys must often be removed surgically.
Provide your pets with a place to hide: Many pets get nervous, shy and scared around people that they are not familiar with. A spare bedroom, office or basement with your pets’ favorite toys and food is a good idea during holiday gatherings.