Holiday Hazards!

Posted on: November 13, 2013
Tags: Holiday Hazards
Dog in santa hat

We at House Vets wish you much joy in this holiday season, and hope that you get a lot of quality time with friends, family, and pets. Please remember that all the changes that come with the holidays can also bring dangers in for our four-legged friends.

Many plants that are brought inside around the holiday season can be toxic to our pets. Several types of Christmas tree needles and poinsettias can cause mild vomiting and decreased appetite, but usually resolve quickly. Amaryllis can cause neurologic signs, such as incoordination and seizures. Lilies lead to kidney failure when chewed by curious kitties.

Other decorative dangers are present during this time of year, too. Tinsel and ribbon can become lodged in the GI tract, requiring surgical removal. Liquid potpourri can create ulcers, extreme pain and irritation, intestinal upset, and neurologic depression. Glass ornaments can break into sharp shards, leading to cuts or GI problems if swallowed.  Electrical cords are often found in new places, and if your pet should chew into one, electrocution can occur.

Some of our own treats can do harm to our furry friends.  Fatty or seasoned food can lead to GI upset and pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening.  I knew a Labrador who was given a plate for Thanksgiving dinner, developed pancreatitis, and was hospitalized almost until New Year’s Eve because he was so sick.  Chocolate and coffee products can cause hyper-excitation, vomiting and diarrhea, and seizures.  Ethanol-containing products can intoxicate pets, too, and cats are especially sensitive to this; be careful with egg- and cream-based drinks!  Uncooked bread dough can rise while in your dog’s warm stomach, causing bloating and vomiting.  After you have thrown waste food into the garbage, be sure to safeguard it from mischievous dogs; spoiled food can cause severe intestinal problems.

If presents are a feature of your holiday season, be aware of your animal’s participation.  Small toys or pieces can be swallowed, potentially causing intestinal obstruction.  Batteries can cause internal burns and tissue death—they are bad news for your dogs and cats!

If you are having visitors in your home, remind them that pets can find trouble in all sorts of places.  Make sure their medications are stored safely and that none are dropped on the floor for an animal to find.  Be cautious with visitors coming in and out, as pets will have more chances to escape outside.  Be sure that all pets have a collar and ID tag with your information on it; cats should wear breakaway collars in case they get caught on something.  Microchips are also invaluable if the collar gets lost, allowing a shelter or veterinarian to identify and contact a lost pet’s owner.

If they do get outside, there are a few extra things to be cautious about, in addition to traffic, wildlife encounters, and all the other year-round worries.  Antifreeze is a very dangerous toxin, and often causes fatal kidney failure.  Also, many ice-melting agents can cause electrolyte changes and vomiting.

If you have concerns about something in your house or something your pet has eaten, call us.  Another great resource is the ASPCA Poison Control Center, which has a large database of the dangers and treatments of many types of or 1-888-4ANI-HELP.

Happy holidays, and stay safe!