How to Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season

Happy Holidays from Companion Animal Hospital! 
With the holidays fast approaching, we know what a busy time of year this can be.  By taking a few precautions, you can make sure that everyone in your family (including your furry friends) enjoys the holidays! Below are some ideas to help avoid timely and expensive emergency visits to the vet.
  1. Keep your holiday plants away from your pets. While there are many beautiful plants we associate with the holiday season, some of these can be quite toxic to our pets. Holly and mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and even abnormalities with the heart. Ingesting only a small amount of certain types of lilies can cause kidney failure. If you suspect your pet has consumed a toxic plant, seek veterinary attention immediately.
  2. Be very careful about feeding table scraps. While it is never a good idea to feed your pets table scraps, some of the foods we associate with the holidays can be especially dangerous. For example, turkey bones can pose as choking hazards or obstruct the gastrointestinal tract. Fruit cake may contain grapes or raisins, which can cause kidney failure. Chocolate can cause an array of symptoms ranging from vomit and diarrhea to death. Also, we see a spike of “pancreatitis” (inflammation of the pancreas) around the holidays because of pets often getting fatty scraps; this disease is quite uncomfortable for your pet!
  3. No alcohol! In addition to avoiding table scraps, be careful your pet doesn’t get into the alcohol. Alcohol can cause dangerously low drops in blood pressure, blood glucose, and body temperature.  Even some desserts made with alcohol (rum cake for example) can cause these signs, along with GI upset from ingesting the dessert!
  4. Firmly anchor the tree. A nosey pet can potentially knock a Christmas tree down if not firmly anchored, which can injure your pet. Also for those of you with live trees: be sure that your pet is not able to assess any water you may have in the base, as this may contain fertilizers that can be toxic to your pet.
  5. Consider skipping the tinsel on the tree. What cat doesn’t love something shiny and stringy to play with?? Unfortunately, your cat may decide that the tinsel is a fun toy. If your pet ingests the tinsel, there is little risk of toxicity but a big risk that it can block up their intestines and result in an expensive surgery to remove it!
  6. Have fun! The holidays are a wonderful time to enjoy time with your pet. Consider getting them a stocking and fill it with appropriate treats (talk to your veterinarian if you need recommendations on what to fill it with!). Maybe take your pet for pictures with Santa. Play in the snow. Do whatever makes you and your pets holiday season merry and bright and SAFE!
article written by:
Erin Walsh, DVM
Companion Animal Hospital Mount Prospect

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