The last thing any pet owner wants to do this holiday season is rush to the animal emergency clinic. Since the holidays often pose many unexpected pet health issues, veterinarian and author, Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM offers a few tips to help ensure your pets safety this season, so your holiday doesn’t end in disaster. During the holidays, the majority of pet emergencies are due to pets eating something inappropriate. Certain foods cause upset stomachs, others are poisonous, and some can be life-threatening. Since about 60% of pet lovers share holiday meals with their 4-footed family friends here are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind.
Turkey is fine for pets. Be sure to avoid the skin and bones! Turkey skin is usually fatty and too rich for most pets. Excess fatty foods often lead to upset stomachs along with vomiting and diarrhea. Consequence of repeated episodes of vomiting often lead to an inflammation of the pancreas, called Pancreatitis, which if left untreated can result in Diabetes. Poultry bones, especially when cooked, splinter easily and can perforate your pet’s digestive tract or in some cases block or cause an obstruction of the intestines which requires costly surgery to correct. Other foods to avoid include: grapes and raisins, excessively salty foods, foods flavored with excess onion and/or garlic powder, coffee, Macadamia nuts, sweets containing Xylitol, and chocolates.
Throw out your leftovers. Having a secure pet proof lid on your trash container helps to eliminate problems with” garbage hounds.” Remember, keep your trash can secure. Many of the items we use to prepare festive meals can be dangerous for dogs and cats. For example, the turkey string and foil wrappers still smell good to your pet even after you’ve tossed them into the trash. Decorative plants should be placed up high-out of paw reach especially for curious cat owners and those with playful pups as some can be toxic. Mistletoe and holly ofetn lead to vomiting and lilies can be deadly to cats. Poinsettias, despite their reputation, are not a threat and usually cause mild stomach upset at most.
Many holiday decorations pose dangers. Ribbons and tinsel are especially attractive and very hazardous to cats. Tape electric cords to the floor, elevate candles and place potpourri oils carefully so pets, especially cats and puppies can’t bump into them or accidentally rub against them. Wire can be used to anchor your tree and covering it with a net helps avoids problems with curious cats. Don’t let your pet drink water from your tree. It usually contains sharp needles that easily perforate pets feet and mouth and the chemicals used to preserve your tree are less than healthy to say the least. Use velvet bows instead of hooks to hang ornaments and consider home-made, unbreakable decorations. This can be a fun family project for all and helps you and your pet avoid expensive trips to the emergency room.
Be sure your pet has a collar with updated ID tags just in case he or she sneaks out your front door and it is always a good idea to provide you pet with a place to retreat from the festivities and enjoy some R&R. Nervous and overly anxious pets might be happier avoiding large family gatherings, especially if young children are involved. Keep current phone numbers for your veterinarian and the local pet emergency center in a handy place. A quick call to either can be a life-saver and may even help you avoid a trip to the ER. The ASPCA Poison Control center is available 24/7 should you need fast answers for potential toxins pets may encounter.