Holiday Hazards

With the holidays approaching we often include our pets in the celebrations, as it should be, but there are a few hazards that all pet owners should be aware of.

When decorating the Christmas tree, it is best to leave out the tinsel if you have a cat. Tinsel can be irresistible to cats, and they love to play with it. If ingested, it can tangle up the intestines and lead to an intestinal obstruction that may require emergency surgery and is life-threatening. Not worth it in my opinion.

Chocolate toxicity is a hazard that comes with every holiday – it’s everywhere! Keep this away from our dogs because if ingested it can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, heart problems, seizures and even death! Treatment includes inducing vomiting if caught early enough and hospitalization. Really, the best thing to do is to eat all that chocolate as soon as you get it, then there’s no risk to your dog accidentally ingesting it. You’re actually doing him a favour.

As much as we want everyone to enjoy our indulgent typical Christmas dinner, it’s really in our pet’s best interest if we don’t allow them to partake in the feast. A sudden intake of fatty foods can cause acute diarrhea and vomiting and lead to pancreatitis, which may require hospitalization and an extended stay in the clinic.

Keep wires and batteries out of reach. Pets love to chew on wires, and that can lead to electric shocks that may be fatal. Chewed up batteries can leak within the esophagus and stomach and cause burns as well as ulcers and possibly perforations.

Certain holiday plants can also be dangerous. Holly can cause vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. Mistletoe can also cause gastrointestinal signs, but also the heart and respiratory issues.

For our anxious pets who get disrupted when visitors are over, consider pheromone therapy (Feliway and Adaptil). These can be used as a spray or plug-in diffuser that helps our pets calm down and decrease their anxiety. As well, don’t forget to remind guests to keep the front door closed at all times. Too often the comings and goings of visitors can lead to our pets escaping and getting lost which would be devastating during the holiday season.

Written by: Niki Low, DVM