As responsible pet owners, we tend to keep certain household routines to maintain a safe and healthy environment for our pets. The busy holiday season likely disturbs those routines as we embellish our homes with festive décor and delightful treats. Our furry family members, who find these new additions to their environment irresistible, can get themselves into a lot of trouble! Here are a few tips to keep in mind so your pets stay safe this holiday season:
Dogs love chocolate; chocolate does not love dogs. Fido, thinking that gift under the tree must be for him (not because he misread the gift tag, but because it smells so delicious), opens the box and indulges himself. At lower doses, the toxin found in chocolate can cause vomiting, increased thirst, diarrhea, and hyperactivity. With higher doses, the toxin can cause muscle spasms, seizures, coma, and even death. Until Fido learns how to read gift tags, be sure to ask your holiday guests to refrain from putting gifts containing chocolate or other food item under the tree. Call your family veterinarian or AES right away if you suspect Fido or Fluffy may have ingested chocolate.
Decorate your tree, not the inside of your cat. Fluffy, who may be tormented daily by the mysterious and evasive laser dot, will feel quite victorious after feverishly catching everything else that dangles and sparkles over the holidays. While the sight of Fluffy or Fido playing with ribbon may warm our hearts, if ingested, ribbon and other decorations can cause serious health problems, ranging from gastrointestinal (GI) upset to intestinal blockages. Extension cords are not sparkly, but still find their way into the mouths of unsuspecting pets, risking electrocution. Discourage Fluffy from climbing the new twinkling “cat tree” because, if it topples over on her, you may be left with an injured pine-scented cat. Don’t let Fluffy or Fido become enticed by that fancy new “water bowl” you’ve hidden under the tree, as ingesting tree water can also cause stomach upset. Additionally, candles are likely victims of wagging tails and curious paws. Keep open flames out of reach of pets, unless of course you have prepared enough holiday food for the local fire department. If you notice any vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, promptly call your family vet or AES for advice.
Holiday plants are prettier without Fluffy’s dental impressions. Cats and occasionally dogs find their inner herbivore around the holidays. Festive plants can range from mildly toxic (local oral irritation and GI upset) to highly toxic (kidney failure) when ingested. Supervise your furry family members around any new plants, sprigs, sprouts, or branches. Common plant toxicities seen around the holidays include poinsettias (mildly toxic), holly berries or leaves (moderately toxic), plus lilies and mistletoe (highly toxic). The most common signs of GI upset are drooling, vomiting, belly pain, and diarrhea. Signs of kidney failure may include loss of appetite, depression, vomiting, and lack of urination. If you observe any of these symptoms or see your pet eating any toxic plants, please contact your family vet or AES immediately.
Holiday dining: a spectator sport for Fido! Do not fall for Fido’s claim that he is spiraling into a deep depression because you are unwilling to share your succulent holiday feast with him. He is unaware that onions, raisins/grapes, garlic, macadamia nuts, and any food containing the sweetener xylitol are toxic to him. Avoid sharing bones from your favorite holiday meat as ingestion of bones can cause severe GI upset or intestinal blockage. Additionally, foods that are fatty, spicy, or greasy can cause a serious condition called pancreatitis, a common ailment seen in pets around the holidays. Holiday cocktails should be kept well out of reach as alcohol poisoning can lead to coma and death. Once the meal is over, it is best to remove garbage from the kitchen to prevent Fido from having his own holiday feast. Ingestion of moldy food can cause muscle tremors that resemble seizure activity. In general, many of the signs of toxicity and foreign body ingestion are similar, and may include a distended abdomen, general distress or listlessness, sensitivity/tenderness to touch, or expression of pain such as yelping, whining, or shivering. Bloody stool, vomiting, inability to swallow, and gagging are also possible reasons for concern.
Vigilance and prevention are keys to keeping Fido and Fluffy safe this time of year. If you have any questions or concerns, please give us a call at 425.827.8727. We are always here for you and your pet—even during the holidays!