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The holiday season is filled with fun and families but unfortunately, at WestVet, we often have emergency visits during this time. We want to share a few safety tips to help keep you furry ones home and healthy during the holidays.

Holiday Décor.  A live Christmas tree needs water, and your pet may think this new decorative bowl is a perfect place to get a little sip. Not so. WestVet provides 24/7 Veterinary Emergency Care at our Idaho Hospital during the holidaysThe water may become stagnant and a breeding ground for bacteria. If your pet drinks from the tree, he may end up with diarrhea and/or nausea—certainly not a fun way to celebrate the holidays with a house full of company! In addition, a few festive plants can be harmful to pets. Holly, if ingested, may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause the same gastrointestinal upset, as well as cardiovascular problems. Several varieties of lilies can cause numerous internal issues for cats – it’s best to just forgo the fresh décor and go with the silk plants to ensure that none of your furry friends takes a nibble when you’re not looking.

The feast. Keep the food and feasting for the humans. We often have pets at WestVet during the holidays that have helped themselves to an unattended plate, nosed through the trash, and/or opened a food-related present under the Christmas tree. (Dogs have a keen sense of smell, if they smell something tasty wrapped under the tree, they will unwrap it and help themselves!) The most concerning common food exposures during the holidays are chocolate, bread dough, fruitcake, alcohol, and medications. It’s critical to ensure all of your medications are safely stored and that your guests have packed away their meds, too.

Careful with cocktails. If your holidays include adult beverages, watch those unattended drinks. If your pet sips an alcoholic drink he or she could become weak, ill, and may even go into a coma—possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

Houseful of holiday guests.  Many of your animal-loving guests will want to share some holiday love with your pets, this means extra attention and affection—a good thing. However, if guests are wary of pets, and/or have small children visiting, it’s best to keep furry household members in a safe place—away from the hustle and noisy festivities. Pets not accustomed to young children may become startled or frightened when approached, resulting in a nip or a bite, a swiping scratch and a hiss, and tears and contention all around. Help keep everyone happy and festive by kenneling or cornering your four-legged friends in their own space complete with fresh water and a place to cuddle. Also, when guests bring their furry family members along, you could be setting yourself up for a fight and an animal injury. Pets innately become territorial and if feeling threatened with a pet visitor, you could spend the evening at WestVet treating an injury. Separate spaces are best.

Sparkles, lights and flaming candles. Our pets (particularly the curious felines) love all that glitters and sparkles. Tinsel, if ingested, can be extremely dangerous for pets including causing an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. Candles with open flames could burn your pet and/or be tipped over and cause damage to your home. Be wary and watchful. Another note: strings of lights. No nibbling or playing with electrical cords!

Giving good gifts.  Choose pet toys to give that are safe. If your dog is one who likes to tear toys apart, be aware that squeakers or plastic eyes/noses could become logged in an esophagus, stomach or intestines. Your frisky feline may love playing with ribbons and yarn, but toys that can be shredded pose a similar problem; if pieces become stuck in intestines, this often requires surgery.

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.WestVet provides veterinary emergency care during the holidays

Many of these tips were adapted from the ASCPA’s holiday safety tips. They report that during every holiday season, they take numerous calls from concerned pet owners. If your pet ingests something they should not, 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 if you should need us.

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!

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