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Holiday Pet Safety

Pet Safety Tips for the Holidays

It is hard to believe that Halloween is over, and that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner.  It is always a good idea to review safety tips for the upcoming holidays.  My own dogs once spent a couple of nights in the hospital on IV fluids and GI medication after ingesting 56 tablets (112 days’ worth) of Deramaxx, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.  My niece showed me the chewed up bottle just as my sister and her husband from Boston were pulling the lobsters they had bought for Christmas Eve dinner out of the pot. Thankfully they were both fine, but it was a scary reminder of what can happen when our normal routines are disrupted by fun times with family and friends.  Below I have summarized some tips published by the ASPCA.  Most may be reminders, but you also may learn something new!  Happy Holidays!

 Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Your Pets

 If you decide to feed your pet a small bite of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don’t offer her raw or under-cooked turkey, which may contain salmonella. Do not give your pet the left over carcass–the bones can be extremely problematic for their digestive tract. Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him access to raw yeast bread dough. When a dog or cat ingests raw bread dough, the yeast continues to convert the sugars in the dough to carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. This can result in bloated drunken pets, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring hospitalization. If you plan to bake Thanksgiving desserts, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning. While your family enjoys a special meal, give your cat and dog a small feast of their own. Offer them made-for-pets chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a food puzzle toy. They’ll be happily occupied, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy. A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

Christmas Safety Tips for Your Pets

 Be Careful with Seasonal Plants and Decorations

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, and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe. Avoid Mistletoe, Holly and Lilies: Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Lilies can cause acute kidney failure and potentially death in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet. Kitties love tinsel, a 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.. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel. Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. If you leave the room, put the candle out! Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth and digestive tract.

Avoid Holiday Food Dangers

By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising pet will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans. Fatty, spicy and toxic human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won’t lead to costly medical bills. If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure. Looking to stuff your pet’s stockings? Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kong toys can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible. Long, stringy things are a feline’s dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in their intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy, or an interactive cat toy.

Plan a Pet-Safe Holiday Gathering

If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you’re busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session. Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too. Give your pet his/her own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their bed, or in a separate room away from the hubbub. As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. And remember that many pets are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.

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