I have a dog. I was wondering what are the holiday hazards to him & other pets?
Taylor, age 12
As the holiday seasons approach us, our homes may become hazardous places for our pets. With a little preparation and thinking ahead, we can keep our pets safe, and make fewer trips to the emergency room this year.
Let’s start with plants. First of all, some good news… Poinsettias’ toxicity has been highly over-rated. Severe illness is rare if ingested. The worst indication would be mouth irritation and/or mild nausea or vomiting. However, ingestion of holiday plants like lilies, mistletoe, and holly can cause more serious vomiting and diarrhea, and in the most severe cases, kidney and heart disease. So, if you have these in your home, protect them well from your pet.
Other not uncommon hazards, especially for cats, are ribbon and tinsel. For some strange reason, cats like to eat these, and they can cause life-threatening intestinal problems.
Chocolate is another danger, especially for dogs. Most of us already know how toxic it can be to our pets, so keep those red and green M&M’s up high or in an un-chewable container.
One of the most common problems that walk through the door of our veterinary hospital is vomiting and/or diarrhea from a condition known as pancreatitis, caused by our pets being fed too many holiday leftovers, or getting into the garbage to feast on bones, fat, and other scraps. This can easily be avoided by not feeding our pets the leftovers and storing the garbage in tight containers.
In Winter, the outdoors has its own hazards for our pets. If you like to change your own antifreeze, make sure you thoroughly clean up all spills, and immediately properly dispose of old product. Consumption of antifreeze can cause very painful kidney failure, and most times, ends in death. Consider using Pet Friends anti-freeze. If ice melt is necessary, again consider one of the Pets Friends products that are available. This will help prevent unpleasant irritation to pets’ feet or stomach, if ingested.
To be prepared, keep this number in a convenient place: SPCA Animal Poison Control Center 1-888-426-4435.
With a little planning, we can help our pets stay safe, happy and healthy this holiday season, so we can all enjoy the time together.
Thomas Schaeberle, V.M.D.