By Dr. Katie Gibson
The holiday season means lots of joyous celebration for us, but also creates some hazards for pets. Please keep the following things in mind to help keep your pets happy and healthy over the holidays.
Table scraps: Sharing table scraps with your pets is not a good idea. Table scraps are a bit richer than your pets’ normal food and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), and abdominal pain. Also avoid feeding any type of bones that can splinter. It is usually best to keep pets in a different room during dinnertime to help prevent them from scavenging dropped morsels.
Decorations: Pets are often as fascinated with decorations as much as we are. But instead of just looking at them, pets like to eat them. Some decorations, such as tinsel, can get stuck in the stomach or intestine and eventually saw through the tissue, leading to perforation which is very dangerous. Also be particularly careful with glass ornaments and stuffed animals that can be chewed up.
Visiting family pets: You love your family and their pets, but that doesn’t mean all the pets will love each other. Dogfights are very common around the holidays. To help prevent this, either kindly ask that your family leave their pets at home, or properly introduce dogs on leash after going for a long walk and keep them separated unless closely supervised.
Toxic plants: Holiday traditions such as mistletoe and poinsettias may not be the best idea if you have pets. Mistletoe contains a toxin that can slow the heart, lower blood pressure, and upset the gastrointestinal tract. Poinsettias are not as dangerous as once thought, but their sap is very irritating if it comes in contact with the mouth or skin. It can cause irritation, drooling, itching, vomiting, and diarrhea, which will put a real damper on holiday fun.
Cold weather: If your pets stay outside, be sure they have appropriate shelter and bedding to stay warm. Also be sure the water in their dishes is not frozen. (There are water bowl heaters that can insure access to unfrozen water even in the coldest weather.) On very cold nights and during snowstorms it is usually best to let pets stay inside.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year, and by taking a few precautions you can help make them a wonderful time for your pets as well. If your pet is ill, please be sure to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Do not wait until after the holidays are over to get them the treatment they need. Visit www.reachvet.com for more safety tips, and have a wonderful holiday season with your family and pets.
Dr. Gibson was educated at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University and has been at R.E.A.C.H. (Regional Emergency Animal Care Hospital) for four years.