Holiday Hazards

Holiday Hazards

By Misty Pines Pet Company

The holiday season brings excitement and commotion associated with shopping, travel, and other seasonal preparations. In all the activities of the season our beloved pets may be exposed to hazards that are not found other times of the year. As homes fill with holiday spirit, pets may be intrigued by the new sites, smells and tastes. The following are some of the most common health concerns for your pet during the holidays. If you have specific questions regarding any health concern, please contact your veterinarian. It may be difficult to curb your pet’s fascination with all those pretty decorations. Child gates can be used across doorways to keep your pet away from the Christmas tree and decorations at times they cannot be watched.

    Holiday Lights

  • Decorative lights are an attraction for pets to chew on. Both indoor and outdoor lights should be carefully examined to ensure safety for your household pets. Electrical shock may occur from defective cords as well as from them chewing on cords. Check cords for any signs of bite marks, loose or frayed wires, proximity to the tree’s water supply or evidence of short circuits. Use grounded “3-prong” extension cords and strictly follow manufacturer’s guidelines for light usage.
  • Electrical shock can cause burns, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rhythm, loss of consciousness, and death. Call a veterinarian immediately if your pet has been injured by electrical shock. Treatment will be most effective if begun soon after the shock. Bubble Lights: They contain a small amount of methylene chloride, which is also found in paint removers. It is a moderately toxic solvent.
    Tinsel, Ribbon and other “Shiny” Things

  • Ribbons, wrapping paper, ornaments, tinsel, and gifts may be appealing “chew toys” that may make your pet sick. There is something about those shiny strands of Christmas tree decor, which drives kitties wild. Although the sight of your cat pawing at the tree may be cute, the ingestion of tinsel can be deadly. Eating tinsel or other string-like items such as ribbon can cause serious damage to the intestine. One end can get stuck while the rest is pulled into the intestine as it contracts; the contractions may cause the ribbon or tinsel to cut through the intestine. If not caught in time, infection of the belly cavity develops and the prognosis for recovery becomes poor. Pets can become ill quickly and symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, depression, belly pain and sometimes fever.
  • Angel hair ornaments are a finely spun glass that is toxic and potentially obstructive if ingested. Also be aware that antique or foreign-made ornaments may be decorated with lead-based paint. Eating other holiday decorations can cause signs ranging from mild depression to severe vomiting or diarrhea, depending upon whether or not the foreign body can be passed in the stool or gets stuck along the way. Sometimes foreign bodies stuck in the intestine do not show up on “x-ray” but will trap air in the intestine, which helps your veterinarian make a diagnosis. Surgery is required to remove foreign bodies that do not pass on their own.
    Water and other liquids

  • Even though they have their own water bowl, there is something enticing about other sources of water; whether it’s the toilet bowl or the Christmas tree stand. If you add chemicals to the water meant to keep your tree fresh longer, be sure to read the label to make sure it is safe for pets. Stagnant tree water can also contain bacteria, which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Potpourri makes your house smell festive but may be another attraction for pets to drink. Make sure that potpourri pots are covered or otherwise inaccessible to pets.
  • Snow globes may contain antifreeze, which is extremely toxic to dogs. Very small amounts can be lethal, as little as one teaspoon can be deadly to a cat. If there is a snow globe spill of any kind, send your pet out of the room while you clean up the liquid. Dilute the spot with water and floor cleaner to make sure your dog does not lick these harmful chemicals later.
    Overindulgence

  • Well-intentioned family and friends may share holiday foods with pets causing the pet to develop an upset stomach. Pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas can be caused by eating fatty foods. To control excessive food intake by your pets and to meet your guests’ desires to feed the pets, have the treats your pets would normally receive and let your guests “treat” the pets.
    The following foods are not pet friendly:

  • Coffee: Contains caffeine which is a stimulant, and depending on the dose ingested, signs may include stimulation, restlessness, increased heart rate, tremors, or seizures.
  • Macadamia Nuts: Can cause muscular weakness, depression, vomiting, disorientation, tremors, abdominal pain and muscle stiffness. The effects can last 1-3 days.
  • Grapes and Raisins: Can develop kidney failure if large amounts are ingested of either of them.
  • Chocolate:Theobromine is the toxic compound found in chocolate. The darker the chocolate, they more toxic it is. Symptoms may appear within 1 to 4 hours of eating and include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity, increased thirst, urination and heart rate.
  • Alcohol: Can cause alcohol poisoning. The pet may become weak, severely depressed, and go into a coma.
  • Yeast dough: Uncooked yeast dough can raise in the stomach and cause severe pain when ingested. It can also cause bloat, vomiting, disorientation and depression. Since the breakdown product of rising dough is alcohol, it can cause alcohol poisoning. Many cases like this require surgical removal of the dough. Even small amounts can be dangerous.
  • Bones: Cooked bones can splinter and cause intestinal blockages.
  • Xylitol: Be aware of candy or foods containing the sweetener xylitol, which is now common in a lot of sweets and gums. Side effects can be seen in as little as six minutes after consumption. The pet will become lethargic, weak, have a loss of coordination, seizures, and fall into a coma. Even small amounts of xylitol sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures.
    Some examples of toxic holiday plants

  • Holly
  • Amaryllis
  • Mistletoe
  • Poinsettia
  • Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, Easter cactus
  • American bittersweet
  • European bittersweet
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Christmas rose
  • Jerusalem cherry
  • Autumn crocus
  • Christmas palm
  • Christmas orchid
  • Christmas dagger fern
  • Mistletoes cactus
  • Burning bush
  • Lilies

Extra attention from visiting relatives and friends may be relished by some pets while others seek solitude in their favorite hiding spot. Make sure pets are given some “personal space” if they want to get away from all of the activity. Some pets may respond to all the commotion with a change in behavior including bad behaviors like eliminating in the house. Try spending extra “quality time” with them to assure them that they have not been forgotten.


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