Be careful how you deck your halls! The holiday season is generally a time of family togetherness in which even our pets participate. One's thoughts generally are far from thoughts of injury; however, one must be aware of some important seasonal hazards in order to insure a happy holiday season.
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 breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he or she drink.
These are of special interest to playful cats and kittens who see these materials as toys (or prey) to be chased, pounced upon, chewed or swallowed. While chasing and pouncing pose no health threats, chewing and swallowing do, as these strings or "linear foreign bodies" can catch in the GI tract, leading to bunching of intestine as the body tries in vain to move the string or ribbon through. This is a life-threatening condition requiring surgery for correction. Supervise animals who play with string closely.
Kitties love this 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, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It's best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.
Electric Light Cords
These are also tempting to cats who like to play with string as well as to puppies who are teething and interested in chewing. If a pet bites through an electrical cord, it could result in a severe burn to the tongue which causes the pet's lung to fill with fluid, causing respiratory distress. This is also an emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention.
That Holiday Glow
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. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!
Many people do not realize that chocolate can be posion. Unsweetened baking chocolate carries a much higher dose of the toxin "theobromine" than does milk chocolate, but even normal milk chocolate can be dangerous; a small dog sharing candy can wind up in big trouble. Clinical signs of chococlate posioning include hyperexcitability, nervousness, vomiting, and diarrhea and death. Pets can smell chocolate, even when it is gift wrapped, so don't put these presents where the pet can reach them.
Consuming this festive-looking plant can be irritating to the mouth and stomach of the dog or cat that chews on or eats it. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettia is not specifically toxic.
The fact that there are several types of misteltoe make it difficult to predict the clinical signs of poisoning. Some mistletoes produce only stomach upset while others may lead to liver failure or seizuring. Consider misteletoe to be a hazardous substance and keep it inaccessible to pets and children.
Keep pets out of the kitchen during the hustle and bustle of the season. The last thing you want is for someone you love to get underfoot and get burned from spillage.
We all like to include our pets in Holiday meals along with the rest of the family, but try to keep in mind that sudden rich diet changes are likely to upset a pet's stomach. Vomiting and diarrhea are not uncommon. If leftovers are of an especially fatty nature, the pancreas may become inflamed and overloaded. This condition is serious and may require hospitalization.
Put the Meds Away
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 packaged away, too.
Careful with the Cocktails
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.
A Room of Their Own
Give your pet his or 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 carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.