The holidays are filled with families, friends, fun, and occasionally, an emergency veterinary visit; here are a few safety tips to keep your pets home and healthy.
Holiday Décor. Live Christmas trees need water–your pet may think this new decorative bowl is a perfect place to get a sip. Not so. If the water is stagnant it will become a breeding ground for bacteria. If a pet drinks it he/she may end up with diarrhea and/or nausea (not a fun way to celebrate the holidays with a house full of company! ). In addition, other Christmas plants can be harmful. Holly, if ingested, may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause those same issues, as well as cardiovascular problems. Several varieties of lilies can cause numerous internal issues for cats. You may find it’s best to use silk floral decor to ensure that none of your pets take a nibble when you’re not looking.
The feast. Human food is only for humans. We have seen pets that helped themselves to an unattended plate, nosed through the trash, and/or opened a food-related present under the tree (with their keen sense of smell, dogs can sniff out the wrapped goodies pretty easily). Common food exposures during the holidays include chocolate, bread dough, fruitcake, alcohol, and medications. Remind your guests to keep their medications safely packed away during their visit.
Careful with the cocktails. If your pet sips an unattended alcoholic drink, he or she could become weak, ill, and even slip into a coma—possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.
A house bursting with guests. While many guests will offer extra attention and affection to your pet, some people or children are wary of pets. It’s best to keep furry household members away from the noisy festivities. Pets that are not accustomed to children may become easily startled or frightened. This could result in a nip, a bite, a scratch, or a hiss—and tears and contention all around. Keep everyone happier by kenneling your four-legged friends in their own space, complete with fresh water and a place to cuddle. Another potential issue arises when visitors bring their pets. Pets innately become territorial if feeling threatened from a visiting pet, a situation ripe for a fight and an animal injury.
Tinsel, lights, and candles. Curious cats love glittery things. Ingested tinsel can be extremely dangerous. If eaten, it may result in an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration, and possible surgery. Open flamed candles could burn your pet and/or be tipped over and cause damage to your home. Also, watch the strings of lights–no nibbling or playing with electrical cords!
Give great (and safe) gifts. Choose safe pet toys. If your dog likes to tear her toys apart, be aware that squeakers and plastic eyes/noses could become lodged in an animal’s esophagus, stomach, or intestines. This includes cats who shred their toys. If particles and pieces become stuck internally, surgery may be required.
Snow globes. Keep these knickknacks in a safe place. Some snow globes contain ethylene glycol— a highly toxic substance to pets. If broken, the sweet smell may attract your pet to lick it up, leading to a potentially fatal intoxication.
Many of these tips were adapted from the ASCPA’s holiday safety tips. During the holidays, they receive numerous calls from pet owners. If your pet ingests something they should not have, you may contact the Animal Poison Control Center at their toll-free number 1.888.426.4435 with questions. In addition, WestVet remains open 24/7 to provide emergency and critical care to pets during the holidays.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our Treasure Valley friends, we hope it is a joyous and happy time for you and your family!