The holidays have snuck up on us once again. Although celebrations may look a little different this year, the decor, food, and holiday spirit remain the same. Your four-legged family members are an integral part of the festivities; however, holiday sweets and treats can be dangerous to your curious critters. In addition to pet-proofing your home, keep close by important numbers and addresses, including Colony Veterinary Hospital, ASPCA Poison Control, and the closest, most easily accessible veterinary emergency hospital. Ensure your pets are safe this pawliday season by avoiding these five common holiday pet hazards from your Colony Veterinary Hospital team.
#1: Anxious or overly excited pets
Kitchen chaos, blinking holiday lights, or loud music can be stressful to pets, including those who are typically calm and unfazed by new things. Holiday routines are often different, especially in the days leading up to the festivities, and mischievous or anxious pets can easily become distracted. Avoid behavior outbursts or accidents with the following tools:
- Exercise — Maintain a consistent exercise and playtime routine to prevent outbursts from pets with pent-up energy.
- Pet-safe room — Set up a separate, pet-safe room away from the festive chaos for your pet, especially during family meal time, to avoid begging pets.
- Soft music — Play soft, relaxing music in your pet’s designated area, which will help ensure they are relaxed and distracted from party sounds. Soft music can also calm pets who are home alone.
- Special holiday toys and treats — Instead of sharing your plate with your pet, provide them with special treats or toys they can enjoy during the festivities. Toys especially are a great way to distract your pet from potential holiday hazards in the home.
- Pheromone sprays — For extra anxious pets, try using pheromone sprays, such as Adaptil or Feliway, in areas where pets spend most of their time, to help them to relax and be calm.
#2: Counter-surfing pets
Tempting smells from holiday meal preparations are difficult for well-behaved pets—and some humans—to resist. However, common holiday ingredients and discarded food scraps are to blame for many unplanned veterinary emergency room visits. Pets lack the ability to digest rich, fatty foods, and are at risk for developing gastrointestinal (GI) distress and inflammation, including pancreatitis, a potentially deadly inflammatory condition that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and dehydration. Additionally, bones and wrappers can damage or become stuck in a pet’s GI system and may require surgical removal. Never feed your pet the toxic foods listed here. Also, beware foods or beverages that contain alcohol, as small amounts are toxic to pets, and can cause a variety of symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, tremors, or death.
#3: Pets playing around the tree
Ensure that your Christmas tree is secured to the ceiling or a doorway to prevent pet injuries from a falling tree. Large indoor trees are every pet’s dream, but danger lurks in every branch. Curious pets cannot resist shiny, dangling ornaments and sparkling decor, so ensure that ornaments are out of reach, especially fragile ones that could break and injure paws. Additionally, use caution when decorating with tinsel or ribbon. Cats often mistake holiday ribbon and tinsel for toys, accidentally swallowing them, and requiring surgical removal. Other decorating hazards include:
- Batteries — Most batteries contain zinc, which can lead to GI distress, anemia, seizures, and sometimes death if ingested by pets.
- Wires and lights — Chewing cords or lights can lead to serious injuries, including oral burns and electric shock.
- Salt dough ornaments or decorations — Eating salt dough ornaments can cause GI upset, or salt toxicity that can be deadly without treatment.
#4: Pets around the fire
Never leave pets unsupervised around fireplaces or burning candles, and ensure that wagging tails and curious noses cannot access lighted candles, to prevent house fires or singed fur. Also, many scented candles or potpourri contain essential oils considered toxic to pets, especially these varieties. Clinical signs include coughing, difficulty breathing, seizures, and possible death.
#5: Pets and plants
Festive holiday plants are a beautiful addition to any home, but many are toxic and, in some cases, deadly for pets who eat them. Holiday centerpieces or bouquets with lilies are severely toxic to cats, and only a small amount of any part of the plant, including the pollen and leaves, can cause drooling, vomiting, and decreased appetite, and lead to kidney failure. The popular poinsettia plant was previously thought to be deadly to animals, but is no longer considered lethal unless large amounts are consumed. However, the sap in poinsettia leaves can irritate your pet’s mouth and throat, and the leaves can cause GI distress, resulting in vomiting or diarrhea. In addition to lillies and poinsettia plants, keep pets away from the following:
Our Colony Veterinary Hospital team wishes you and your family a joyous and hazard-free holiday season. If your pet gets into trouble despite your best efforts, call our office. We are always grateful that you choose us to help your pet.